If you are wondering whether there are crocodiles in Florida, the answer is yes. There are indeed crocodiles in the state. If you are among the group of people who are of the assumption that there are only alligators in the United States, well now you know better.
In South Florida, there are both crocodiles and alligators. If this is surprising to you, you are not the only as we were also surprised. But now that you are aware, you may have a lot of questions such as how can you differentiate between an alligator and a crocodile? Where exactly can the crocodiles be found? etc.
Have no worries as we will answer all the questions you might have.
Ready? Let’s go.
Are There Crocodiles In Florida? Interesting facts
Yes, Crocodiles have lived in Florida for millions of years. They were first sighted by the early settlers in the late 1800s; and since then, the crocodiles have stirred up global interest.
The crocodiles are found in South Florida and they are referred to as American crocodiles.
Anyone who knows anything about crocodiles knows not to mess with them, they are really huge and needless to say, super scary.
However, you should know that American crocodiles are a threatened species group.
It has been found that majority of American crocodiles live closer to the northern end of South Florida. This does not come as a surprise as they thrive in a warm tropical climate.
You can find them in mangrove swamps, large ponds, saltwater regions, creeks and sometimes, even in freshwater regions.
You can tell right away whether it is a crocodile or not by its face. Crocodiles have a tapered snout. Their teeth are sharp and of course very frightening. For your own safety, don’t make your observations up close to avoid being gobbled up. They have thick usually grey skin and there are faded lines that show on their body from a very young age.
A typical American crocodile can weigh up to 453.5 Kilos and grow up to 17 feet. They are very good swimmers and very fast in water too. Given that they are apex predators they can be really quiet and of course deadly. No one wants to be caught in its mouth.
When the crocodiles are young, they eat small fishes as well as other invertebrates. As they get older their diet widens and includes turtles, crabs, snakes, etc. They also eat mammals that come near the water to get a drink.
But the major question on your mind right now will be and what about humans? Do they get eaten by the crocodiles too?
Well, there have been records of humans getting attacked by American crocodiles. Although they are generally known to be timid, they remain apex predators and if they deem fit can decide to include a human in their meal. Want our advice? Best steer clear.
Where Can You Find Crocodiles In Florida?
There are different places where crocodiles can be found in Florida and we will take a look at some of them.
1. Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge – in Florida Keys
Just as the name suggests, it is a refuge for crocodiles. It comprises of mangrove forests, salt marshes, as well as hardwood hammocks. The American crocodiles thrive there but visitors are not usually allowed.
2. Everglades National Park
The Everglades National Park is a 1.5 million-acre wetland preserve that serves as home to not just crocodiles and alligators but also other endangered wildlife species. Examples are the leatherback turtle and the Florida Panther.
It boasts of a mangrove landscape with subtropical conditions that make it conducive for crocodiles.
3. The Turkey Point
It is believed that this is where about 25% of the crocodile population is. With the canal system, there are elevated areas that are safe from flooding where the scary reptiles usually nest.
4. Tampa Bay
There have been times when crocodiles that were tagged in Turkey Point were found here.
5. Rookery Bay in Naples
The Rookery Bay is a 110,000 acres of vast mangrove forests in southwest Florida. With the conditions here, it will not be strange to find American crocodiles here.
The difference between Crocodiles and Alligators
Most people also confuse crocodiles with alligators so you are not alone. But after reading this section, you will be able to easily tell them apart as there are notable differences.
Teeth and Snout
This is one of the very clear ways you can use to tell which one is a crocodile and which one is an alligator.
While crocodiles have a tapered V-shaped snout, crocodiles have blunt snouts that lean more towards a U-shape.
Also for crocodiles you can easily notice about four jagged bottom teeth when the jaw is shut tight and for alligators, you can easily notice the jagged long teeth on its upper jaw when it’s shut tight.
Color is another distinguishable factor between the two reptiles. While that of the crocodiles is grey with a yellowish belly, alligators usually have dark grey, dark green or black-brownish color. You should also know that the skin of some saltwater crocodiles is green-grey in color.
Telling them apart by size can be a bit tricky as it appears similar. But if that is the only means available to you for distinguishing them, then you should know that according to records, crocodiles are longer and heavier than alligators.
Make no mistake, these reptiles are very fast in water. However alligators are faster than crocodiles in the water.
On land, crocodiles can go at a speed of 32km per hour while alligators can go at a speed of 48km per hour.
In this category, alligator stands as the winner. Hopefully the speed is not used at someone running for dear life.
In the U.S, crocodiles are found in the southernmost end of Florida. Alligators on the other hand can be found in other southern states such as Texas, Louisiana, and the Carolinas.
What we can gather from this is that alligators can thrive in slightly colder temperatures unlike crocodiles.
Florida Crocodiles – Frequently Asked Questions
Is the American Crocodile native to Florida?
The answer is yes. American crocodiles are native to Florida.
What is the lifespan of American Crocodiles?
Under favorable conditions, an American crocodile can live up to 100 years. However, their average life span is about 60 to 70 years.
Are there Nile Crocodiles in Florida or any part of the US?
Nile Crocodiles which by the way grow up to 20 feet long are typically found in Africa. There have been no records of them being in the U.S.
Do crocodiles attack humans?
You might not believe it but crocodiles are generally shy creatures. They tend to leave you be, if you leave them be. But don’t go trespassing into their boundary, poking or disturbing them as they would definitely fight back and unless you have mouth as wide, jaws as strong and teeth as sharp as theirs, you are in big trouble.
Can a human outrun a crocodile on land?
Well it all depends on how fast you can run? You might think them too bulky to run fast on land but best believe that they can give you the chase of your life.
How to avoid a crocodile attack?
What to do when you suddenly encounter a crocodile is to very slowly and gently back away. No very fast movement or too much noise. Also if you are in mangrove or wetland region, best keep your eyes peeled and be on alert.