Are Alligators Amphibians?

Are Alligators Amphibians

Alligators are fascinating creatures! But what are they? In which group of animals do they belong? Read on for some fun facts about these creatures.  

Are alligators amphibians? 

Alligators are not amphibians. Instead, they are reptiles. Examples of animals that are amphibians include frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts. Amphibians have a complex life cycle, and they spend time on both land and in water. The skin of an amphibian needs to stay moist at all times because this is how they absorb oxygen. 

On the other hand, the skin on reptiles is scaly and dry, and reptiles breathe through their lungs instead of through their skin. Other reptiles are crocodiles, lizards, snakes, and turtles.  

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Even though amphibians and reptiles are different groups of animals, together, amphibians and reptiles are called “herpetofauna.” All “herps” are cold-blooded. This means that they need to regulate their body temperature through interactions with their environment.

Since they do not have an internal thermostat like mammals and birds, they may regulate their temperature by basking in the sun or shuttling in and out of the sun and shade.  

Are Alligators Amphibians
Are Alligators Amphibians?

Where do alligators live? 

There are two types of alligators that live around the world. The American alligator lives in the United States, ranging from North Carolina to Texas. They prefer to live in freshwater rivers, but they also can be found in swamps, marshes, and lakes.

The American alligator even lives in the Rio Grande River in Texas. Alligators cannot live in saltwater because they do not have salt glands. 

RELATED: Are Alligators Nocturnal? (Can they see in the dark?)

The Chinese alligator is a cousin of the American alligator. The Chinese alligator is the only member of the “Alligatoridae Family” who lives outside the Americas. The Chinese alligator usually lives in the Yangtze River, which is the longest river in Asia.

They are mostly found in eastern Chinese providences such as Anhui and Zhejiang. These alligators can also be found in freshwater rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and swamps.  

How can you tell the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? 

Alligator vs crocodile
Alligator vs. Crocodile

To most people, alligators and crocodiles look very similar, but to trained eyes, these two animals could not be more different. Here are some differences between these two creatures. 

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Temperament 

o Alligators are less aggressive than crocodiles, making them less dangerous. This is because alligators are opportunistic feeders. More likely than not, alligators will not attack unless provoked- but of course, this does not mean that you should go swimming with one if you see one in the wild. 

Size 

o Alligators are usually about 10 to 15 feet long and weigh about 500 pounds. They sure are giant reptiles! But if you think that is big, just wait until you hear about the size of crocodiles. Crocodiles are usually about 14 to 17 feet long and can weigh a whopping 2,200 pounds! 

RELATED: Do Crocodiles & Alligators Die of Old Age? (Are they Immortal)

Snout Shape 

o One of the easiest ways of telling an alligator and crocodile apart is to look at their snout. Alligators have a wide snout that is shaped like a “u’ where crocodiles have pointed snouts that look more like a “v.”

The difference in snout shape actually makes alligators stronger in their mouths, as the shape of their snout allows alligators to crack the shells of turtles easily.  

Jawline 

o Another easy way to tell the difference between an alligator and a crocodile is to look at their teeth. Alligators have a wider upper jaw which allows for their teeth to stay hidden. Crocodiles, on the other hand, have an upper and lower jaw that are the same size.

RELATED: Do Alligators Have Tongues?

This makes their teeth to be exposed. This causes crocodiles to have a look like they are smiling at you.  

ALSO READ: 15 Astonishing Tuatara Facts. Looks like a lizard, acts like a lizard – isn’t a lizard.

What do alligators eat? 

Alligators will usually hunt animals that are easy to catch and are abundant. Adult alligators typically eat fish, snakes, birds, turtles, and small animals. Younger alligators eat a lot of insects, amphibians, and small fish.  

Do alligators have any predators? 

Even though alligators seem tough and at the top of their food chain, they do have some natural predators.

Alligator eggs are very at risk of being crushed or drowned, and they are also a common source of food for raccoons, otters, and bears.

Young alligators are also at risk of being eaten by raccoons, otters, wading birds, and even some fish. Sadly, the biggest predators of young alligators are adult alligators.

Adult alligators have to look out for other alligators who may attack one another for a fight and, of course, humans. 

RELATED QUESTIONS

What is faster on land, alligator or crocodile?

Alligators are faster than crocodiles on land. They can hit speed sometimes up to 30 miles per hour, while crocodiles can only reach between 11 and 20 miles per hour. Alligators don’t have much endurance on land, and they are faster when they are in the water and are also quicker in water than crocodiles.

Are alligators endangered?

The American alligator has been placed on the endangered species list, and it has been Federally protected. They were once threatened by extinction, but their population increased, and they fully recovered, and this animal has been removed from the list of endangered species.

They are still protected because of their physical similarity to crocodiles and caimans, which are still in trouble. The main threat to alligators today is losing their habitat (swamps, marshes, and lakes).

What is the difference between an alligator and a caiman?

The caiman has a large upper jaw with a mouth that includes many sharp and narrow teeth and has larger and higher set eyes than alligators. Alligators are usually dark grey, black, or olive-brown, and they are larger than caimans, with an adult weighing an average of 790 pounds. Caimans belong to the same family as American alligators, but they are more related to crocodiles. They are also more aggressive than alligators.

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Adrian Volenik

I've lived around animals my whole life and I hold a Diploma in Animal Physiology. When I'm not reading or writing about wild animals, health and fitness, and technology, you can find me playing with my son and two cats. My pastimes include running, playing video games, and solving the NY Times crossword.