Crocodiles and alligators, the closest living relatives of dinosaurs, have a lot in common. These fierce reptiles are excellent predators, meat-eaters, and fast movers.
Both crocodiles and alligators have long bodies with tough, bony plates and thick scales. This body armor helps protect the reptiles from harm. Crocodiles and alligators also protect themselves by swimming. They are outstanding swimmers and have tails that help them move quickly through the water.
Crocodiles and alligators can live on land, too. When on land, they walk very slowly and swing their bodies side to side like a slithering snake. When running, they can travel quickly, even up to 12 miles per hour.
These scaly creatures also use their tails to feed themselves: they push off their tails to jump out of water and catch prey. Crocodiles and alligators are carnivores, meaning they eat meat. Their diets typically include insects, frogs, birds, small mammals, and fish. Some have even been known to catch and eat zebras and hippos.
Next time you see one of these reptiles, make sure to stay out of its way!
[Source: Simpson Street Free Press Archives]