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?

Watch the videos below to see if you can spot the difference without getting too close!

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  • Have you ever seen a live alligator or a crocodile?

Alligators and crocodiles are fierce animals that can be found living near bodies of water. Some alligators and crocodiles live in freshwater, while others live in saltwater.

They are both reptiles.

  • Do you know what a reptile is?

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, intricate 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?

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

Great job!

Before learning about the unique characteristics of both reptiles, follow these steps.

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

crocodile silhouette

One easy way to identify an alligator is by looking at its color.

  • What color is the alligator shown below?

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?

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 China. Alligators are usually found in freshwater.

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Crocodiles are different from alligators in a few ways.

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

Crocodiles are usually a light green or light brown color.

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

Crocodiles have a long V-shaped nose. Their V-shaped nose is excellent 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 excellent 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 include facts about alligators and crocodiles on your paper?

Continue to the Got It? section to practice your newfound knowledge.

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