Difference between Caiman and Alligator


A caiman or cayman is a genus under the family Alligatoridae. They usually belong to South and Central America. They feed on fish, birds, insects and other small reptiles. Also, they can be seen in various sizes. The largest cayman is the black caiman which grows between 13-16 feet. The smallest is the Cuvier’s dwarf cayman that grows between 4 and 5 feet. A female caiman can lay up to 50 eggs and they can hatch within six weeks.


An alligator is also a genus under the family Aliigatoridae. The average length of an alligator is 13 to 14 feet while some can grow till 19 feet. They are usually dark brown or black in colour. These creatures are native to Mexico, America and China (Yangtze alligator). The Yangtze alligator and the American alligator are the only two living species of alligators.

Difference between Caiman and Alligator



Caimans have longer, sharper teeth.

Alligators have small conical or round teeth.

Their nostrils lack the bony septum.

They have a bony septum to divide their nostrils.

They have ventral armour with overlapping bony scales.

They have a dorsal armour of bony scutes like crocodiles.

They have calcium rivets on their scales that give them stiffness.

Alligators are more flexible.

They can move quickly.

They are comparatively slow.

Also Read: Reptilia – Characteristics and Classification

Frequently Asked Questions on Difference between Caiman and Alligator


How are crocodiles different from caimans and alligators?

Crocodiles have a long and narrow head. Their snout is more V-shaped when compared to caimans and alligators. Also, both their upper and lower jaws are of the same width. Crocodiles are quicker and more aggressive animals. They belong to the family Crocodylidae.

Extended Reading: Scientific name of Crocodile


What are sprawl and high walk?

Sprawl and high walk are types of locomotion exhibited by alligators. The forward motion with the help of the belly is called sprawl. It is usually transitioned into a high walk where limbs are used for locomotion. The high walk is used during overland travel. Here, the belly is positioned well up from the floor.


What are scutes?

Scutes are external bony plates seen in alligators and crocodiles. They are structures similar to the scales. Scutes with a proper bony base are known as osteoderms. Osteoderm is usually seen in some amphibians and reptiles.

Keep exploring BYJU’S Biology for more exciting topics.


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