Exotic Leather Blog

Comparing Alligator & Crocodile Skins

Posted by Abram Mendal on Jun 25, 2015 1:50:00 AM

Are you about to embark on your next leather project, but aren't sure where to begin? Once you've made a decision on the type of clothing item or accessory you'll create, the next step is selecting the right leather to turn that idea into a reality.

Depending on what you'll be creating, your needs and the size of your budget, you'll have to take into account several features when choosing the perfect animal skin.

To help you make this step easier, we've broken down the essential qualities of the most popular alligator and crocodile skins — including the Nile crocodile, American croc, American alligator, Caiman, Saltwater croc and Siamese croc.

Nile Croc

The Nile crocodile is one of the premier leather materials used for footwear, handbags and other leather products.Native to: Africa

Size: 13-15 feet — can reach up to 26 feet

Quantity: 200,000 famed annually

Fun fact(s): Often compared to American Alligator, but serves as the more affordable alternative

Scales: Large & more square than round in shape

Uses: Footwear (especially cowboy boots), handbags & belts

American Crocodile (Acutus)

The American Crocodile (acutus) is the perfect alternative for a less expensive leather project.Native to: Central America & northern parts of South America

Fun fact(s):

- Largest reptile in the Americas, yet not permitted within the US

- Narrow flank section & wide belly section

Size: About 14 feet — can reach up to 25 feet

Scales: small to medium size

Uses: Zero bone content makes it perfect for soft leather projects — incl. jackets, pants & skirts

American Alligator

American alligator is perfect for simpler projects like belts and small leather goods due to its soft and flexible hide.Native to: American southeast

Size: 8-10 feet — can reach up to 20 feet

Quantity: 200,000 farmed annually

Fun fact(s):

- 4th lower-jaw tooth placed inside their mouth

- Almost faced extinction — but saved through "conservation through utilization" efforts

Uses: Wide tail & flexible skin makes it easy for watch-straps & footwear

Caiman Croc

The Caiman is often compared to the skin of crocodiles, although their skin is softer and significantly less expensive.Native to: Central America & northern South America (mostly Colombia)

Size: 4-6 feet — can reach up to 8 feet

Quantity: 600,000 farmed annually

Scales: medium to large in size

Fun fact(s):

- Caiman is cut for its "hornback" (most crocs are cut almost exclusively for belly skin)

- Contains relatively high bone content, making it rigid & harder to bend

- More affordable than alligator or croc skins (due to bony nature & fragile skin)

Uses: Cowboy boots, structured handbags

Saltwater Croc

Saltwater crocodile leatherNative to: Southeast Asia & South Pacific

Size: Between 13 and 15 feet — can reach up to 32 feet

Quantity: 60,000 farmed annually

Fun fact(s):

- LARGEST reptile in the world

- Belly has NO bone content

Uses: High-end handbags & garments (due to its compelling tile pattern & no bone content)

Siamese Croc

Siamese CrocodileNative to: Southeast Asia

Size: 7-8 feet — can reach up to 13 feet

Quanitity: 60,000 farmed annually

Fun fact(s):

- NOT permitted in US or Europe

- NO bone content

- Often compared to American alligator (due to its supple feel & tiling

Uses: Mostly handbags, accessories & footwear (products where Asian factories have strong expertise)

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Topics: crocodile skin, alligator skin, caiman skin