Similar in looks to an alligator, the American crocodile is a large reptile found in salt and brackish waters in southern Florida Unlike the alligator, which lives in freshwater, Florida's native crocodile is an inhabitant of salt water shorelines. There are far less crocodiles than alligators in Floridian nature and most of Florida's crocodile can be found along the mangrove bordered southern shores of Everglades National Park.
settlers first saw the Alligator they named it "el lagarto",
meaning "the lizard". The Florida alligator is an ancient reptile that
is only found in the Southeastern United States, from Texas to as far
north as North Carolina. The only other species of alligator in the
world is found in China, but that one is much smaller and very rare.
Many people believe that crocodiles are more
ferocious and dangerous to man than the alligator. This may be true of
the infamous Nile Crocodile and other South American crocodiles, but the
native Florida crocodile is much shyer than the alligator and is quick
to make a hasty retreat at the approach of humans. Once hunted
intensively for their hides, today, loss of habitat to human
development, illegal killing and roadkill are the greatest threats faced
by American Crocodiles.
The Alligator has an armored black, lizard-like body, with muscular
tails and short stocky legs. They are fast predators on both land and
water, able to run as fast as 20 mph for short distances. The massive
jaws of the alligator's open mouth reveals 70-80 white pointed teeth,
designed to grasp, hold and crush its prey! Adults generally take one of
two forms: long and thin or short and stocky. Female alligators rarely
exceed 9 feet in length, but males can grow much larger. The Florida
state record for length is a 14 foot 5/8 inch male, while the state
record for weight is a 1,043 pound (13 feet 10 1/2 inches long) male.
Crocs can swim at as much as 20 miles per hour by
moving their body and tail in a sinuous fashion, but they cannot sustain
this speed. South Florida is the only place in which the crocodile and
the alligator occur together. Although there are reports of crocodile
growing to 23 feet in South America, the record for Florida is a 15 foot
male. American Crocodiles average between 7-15 feet and have an average
weight of 150-450 pounds. A croc has an average lifespan of 60-70