Crocodilia: How to know what you’re buying

So you bought an "Alligator" Victorian bag on Ebay... What is it, really?

Just a little update for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of crocodilian skins…  I found this great mini-guide and had to share it:

\”Distinguishing Features of Crocodilian Leathers\”

Note these features on the head, especially:

Gator= 2-2-2 pattern of bumps

Caiman (often sold as alligator--don't be fooled!): 4-4-2 pattern of bumps

Croc= 4-2 pattern of bumps

There is often much confusion between alligator and caiman (as they are very closely related).  It’s important to remember that caiman is often sold as gator.  It’s dishonest, but very common.  Educate yourself and know what you’re buying.

Alligator is much more expensive, due to a few factors.  One, it is quite scarce in comparison to caiman.  Alligators can be farmed or caught wild (though there are only 30 days each year that they can be hunted legally).

Alligator hide is MUCH more supple than caiman–you can fold gator in half and there should not be any cracking along the fold (unless you suspect it’s a really old piece of skin and then you should maybe think about identifying it a different way–just a thought).  Caiman is more brittle, and little cracks will appear when you fold it.

Then there are the differences in belly tiles.  The photos on are great references!

As always, look for the DPRs (or ISOs: different names/theories, but each amounting to the fact that you’re only gonna find those little holes on a croc).

For more help with other reptilians, you can find my exotic leathers study guide here.


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