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Crocodile VS Alligator: What is the Difference?

Posted on 20 September 2017

Tomatoe, tomato, right? Well, sort of. True, they both fall under the crocodilian species, but I think the easiest way to remember the difference between these two amazing reptiles is to think about it geographically.

The Alligator or Alligator mississippiensis, is as American as apple pie. They inhabit the southeast United States, and if you live in the region, you might be lucky enough to find one hanging out in your swimming pool. (Kidding, that would be scary.) They have a large, unsymmetrical scale pattern across their bellies and are fine choice for high end luxury brands because of their beautiful and durable skins. There is a Chinese Alligator that shares common traits with its American cousin, but is not used for luxury goods. When referring to fine leather goods, American Alligator is the premier domestic choice and is traded and used legally under CITES. (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)

(American Alligator Forum Top Handle Bag, Pictured Above.)

The term "crocodile" is  much wider term as it covers a multitude of crocodilians, many of which are not legally traded under CITES. For the sake of brevity, I will stick to two crocodile families of interest to handbag aficionados that are legal. 

(Niloticus Crocodile Forum Top Handle Bag.)

The Nile Crocodile or Crocodylus niloticus originates from Africa and offers a more even scale pattern across the belly, compared against Alligator.  They are a freshwater animal that has tiny dot marks on their belly scales called ISO pores. These sensory pores help the croc to navigate its way around. I guess you can think of it like whiskers on a cat. So when you see these pore marks on a bag, you will know it's croc and not gator. 

(Close up of subtle ISO pores on Nile Crocodile belly skin.)

Lastly, a croc of great interest to luxury fans is the saltwater crocodile, most often referred to  as Porosus Crocodile. They inhabit the waters between Northern Australia and Southern Asia. They are loved for their extra small scale pattern, giving the the appearance of very "neat and tidy" symmetrical scales. The smaller scales allows for more rows, adding beautiful visual texture to handbags and leather goods. Once again, you will see the tiny ISO pores.

(Porosus Crocodile belly skin.)

We do not currently carry Porosus, but hope to in the near future. We seek out only the finest crocodilians and get them from the tannery owned and used by LVMH. I hope this short article has been helpful and insightful. Maybe the next time you spot an exotic bag, you'll have a good guess as to what breed it is. 










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