Why Do American Alligators Attack People, but Crocodiles Don’t?

The state of the universe.
Sept. 4 2014 3:25 PM

Why Do American Alligators Attack People, but American Crocodiles Don’t?

A strange Florida case, explained.

70387284
FLORIDA CITY, FL - JUNE 28: A crocodile is seen in a canal near the Florida Power & Light's Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant where they protect the crocodile and conduct research by counting their nests annually to record population changes June 28, 2012 near Florida City, Florida. Wasilewski, a biologist, studies the reptile and helps in developing and constructing the American crocodile nesting habitat near the power plant. The American crocodile had been on the endangered species list but has been taken off that list and put on the threatened list. With the success of the program to help save the crocodile their populations around developed areas will continue to grow which means that there may be more encounters between humans and the reptile. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Joe Raedle

The Orlando Sentinel reported last month that a 300-pound crocodile died while being captured in Florida, after it apparently bit a swimming couple in a canal. Officials suspect the croc now holds an unlikely distinction: He’s believed to be the first to have bitten humans in the state Florida.

There are about six American alligator attacks on humans every year in Florida. Why don’t American crocodiles attack there, too? In the video above, the answer involves a couple crucial differences between the two crocodilians.

  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Dec. 19 2014 4:15 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? Staff writer Lily Hay Newman shares what stories intrigued her at the magazine this week.