Alligators and Crocodiles

Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 11406

See you later, alligator! In a while, crocodile! If you see one of those, do you know which is which? THEY know, and you'll need to know, too, so you can complete your "compare and contrast" foldable!


Life Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Do you know the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? Would you get close enough to find out?

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  • Have you ever seen an alligator or a crocodile?

Share your story with your parent or teacher.

Alligators and crocodiles are fierce animals that can be found living near bodies of water. Some alligators and crocodiles live in fresh water while others live in saltwater. They are both reptiles.

  • Do you know what a reptile is? Discuss your answer with a parent or teacher.

Reptiles are animals that have scales, are cold-blooded, and have a backbone. Reptiles hatch from eggs and lay eggs. Alligators and crocodiles have long tails, hard scales, spiny backs, short legs, and webbed feet. Both alligators and crocodiles have all the qualities that reptiles share, so how do you tell them apart?

  • Can you guess which picture below is the alligator?

Share your guess with your parent or teacher:

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  1. Fold a sheet of paper in half lengthwise (hot dog style).
  2. Write "Alligators" in the section to the left and "Crocodiles" in the section to the right.
  3. Write facts you learn about alligators and crocodiles on this sheet of paper as you continue through the lesson.

Read on to find out the differences between alligators and crocodiles.

  • Did you guess the picture on the right is an alligator?

Great! You are going to learn about the unique characteristics alligators have. One easy way to identify an alligator is by looking at its color.

  • What color is the alligator shown below?

Share your answer with your parent or teacher. As you may have noticed, the alligator below is a dark color. Alligators tend to be gray or black.

Check out the alligator with its mouth opened wide below!

  • How would you describe the shape of the alligator's nose?

Tell your parent or teacher.

Great work! Alligators have a wide U-shaped nose. Another great way to identify an alligator is by looking at its jaw. When an alligator's mouth is closed, you should not be able to see the alligator's bottom teeth.

  • Can you see the bottom teeth on the third alligator?

Of course not! The Chinese alligator in the third picture has its bottom teeth hidden. You should only be able to see the teeth of the upper jaw.

Alligators can be found in the southeastern United States and in China. Alligators are usually found in fresh water.

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Crocodiles are different from alligators in a few ways.

  • What do you notice about the colors of the crocodiles below?

Share your answer with your parent or teacher.

  • Did you notice the light-colored scales crocodiles have?

Crocodiles are usually a light green or light brown color. Crocodiles have a long V-shaped nose. Their V-shaped nose is great for catching fish and birds. When a crocodile's mouth is closed, you can see the teeth on the top and the bottom. They have quite the grin!

Another awesome way to identify a crocodile is by looking at where it lives. Crocodiles often live in salt water. They can be found in Africa, Asia, and Australia.

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Fantastic work!

  • Did you fill in facts about alligators and crocodiles on your sheet of paper?

Share and discuss your facts with your parent or teacher.

When you are finished discussing what you learned about alligators and crocodiles, move on to the Got It? section to practice your newfound knowledge.

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