Why is Alligator Leather More Expensive Than Crocodile?

Crocodile and the alligator leather generally share a lot of similarities and it is understandable most people usually cannot pinpoint the difference yet there is a big difference in price between them. I did a research on this and I’m ready to share with you all I found.

So, why is Alligator leather more expensive that Crocodile leather? Alligator leather is more expensive than crocodile leather not only because of the high demand for it among luxury brands or its rarity but its skin is more beautiful with a more balanced scale design, softer, smoother, and thicker. Also, crocodile have bony plates that make them less valuable.

The American  Alligator skins specifically come at a much higher price is one of the most sought after material in luxury items.

Details on the Factors that Makes Alligator More Expensive

I will break up the factors that make the alligator leather more expensive than crocodile leather into;

  • Demand for Alligator Leather
  • The Beauty
  • softness, Thickness, and Smoothness

1. Demand For Alligator Skins

Generally, there is a lot of premier extravagance associated with items made of Alligator leather. Luxury brands use rare and expensive materials like those of the Alligator to justify their prices.

One particular brand that comes to mind known for using Alligator leather for high-end products is Hermès. Their Alligator Birkin bag is one of the most expensive bags ever made with one of such bags purchased more than half a million dollars.

Most of these luxury brands thrive amongst other things the exclusivity of the Alligator leather material.

They may produce only a few products with the Alligator leather further causing a huge demand for it.

They often use high-quality belly side of the Alligator skin in order to have access to the giant piece of the hide.

Crocodile leather obtained from the Nile or Saltwater in Asia and Australia are of high quality and in some ways may be better than Alligator leather, but its often labeled lower grade of luxury when compared with the Alligator leather.

It is also known that unlike the Alligator leather Crocodile skin is much more easy to imitate due to the kind of skin texture and patterns it has and usually it’s pretty difficult to tell if it’s fake making crocodile leather a bit more common compared to Alligator leather.

Because of this, premium quality products are made using Alligator leather while others somewhat low grade luxury items are made using crocodile leather.

2. The Beauty of Alligator Leather

Generally, both the Alligator leather and crocodile leather have beautiful skins. In leather, the environment from which the animals is obtained for their leather reflects greatly on the quality and beauty of skin you will get.

The majority of crocodile skins on the market are often sourced from Africa (Nile river) or other third world countries and usually, with third world countries, animals may have a tougher environment to survive in.

The drylands, insect bites, and the piles of trash the crocodile’s scavenger through for food cause ugly scars and abrasions on the skin of the crocodiles and when they die all their scars show forth on the leather that is produced from the skin.

Regardless you will find a few valuable skins from the Indopacific or saltwater crocodile found in Asia and northern Australia.

In the case of Alligators, there are largely existent in America which is a first-world nation and as such, the Alligators live in a better environment and often further protected by laws to ensure their safety. So when they die, their leathers are more beautiful and clean.

3. The Softness, Thickness, and Smoothness of Alligator Leather

Trying to figure out if a particular type of leather item you have seen is made of crocodile leather or alligator leather will be difficult especially looking at the smoothness, thickness or how soft the leather of the item is.

There isn’t much difference in terms of softness and flexibility but probably if there was some kind of difference, that could have been the advantage for crocodile skins. But yet still on a price level, the alligator leather is more expensive than crocodile leather although in general, they show the same softness, thickness, and smoothness.

What is The Difference Between Alligator Leather and Crocodile Leather?

Being to tell the difference between alligator leather and crocodile leather can save you a lot of money in your quest for luxury goods.

I will use physical properties to help you distinguish between both animals. You might not only need to be able to tell apart crocodile and alligator leather but you will also need to be able to distinguish between them from synthetically embossed leather. Here are the differences by:

  • The Body Shape
  • Tile Patterns
  • The Scar
  • BacK Horns

1. The Body Shape

The body shape of a crocodile is squarer make the middle section a bit shorter than that of the alligator. This structure generally reflects on the leather and is a first basic indication of the difference between the two.

2. The Tile Patterns

Another distinctive feature is the tile patterns or scales design. You will need to be more careful with this to be able to nail the difference. The alligator skins have dissimilar patterns unlike the crocodile with very few irregularities in the scales patterns.

Looking at the distribution of the scales as a whole, the shapes of the scales design of an alligator leather transitions suddenly into small round shapes towards the belly area of the leather while with crocodile leather, the transition is gradual from normal shaped scales to medium-sized scales to smaller scales and then the more rounded shapes.

From a raw leather material, you will be able to notice this particular difference, however, when viewed as a finished product, it can be extremely difficult.

Also, the patterns on one side of the belly of crocodile leather is almost symmetrical to the other side. In addition, each tile of the crocodile leather has a visible small hair follicle pore which is a major physical feature of crocodile leather.

When the crocodile is alive, it uses its sensitive hairs to perceive its environment and when it dies and the skin is harvested for leather, the hairs are removed during the tanning process leaving a visible pore.

3. The Scar

The crocodile and alligator leather both has umbilical scars but a closer examination will reveal the slight differences between the two types. The umbilical scars of alligator leather are an elongated star shape among the belly scales or extended webbed-like patterns between the tiles on their skin whereas the umbilical scars of the crocodile leather are simpler.

This is a significant difference and is commonly the selling point for most luxury brands. To indicate the authenticity of the alligator skin used for a product, the umbilical scars will be made to show on the front side of a bag.

4. Back Horns

The horns on the back of these reptiles also differentiate them. The neck of both reptiles has a number of small horns or bumps. Looking closely at the horns or bumps you will notice the alligator has its horns arranged in the following pattern of 2-2-2: meaning 3 rows of horns with 2 horns in each. For a crocodile, it is 2 rows with 4 and 2 horns in each.

Tips For Buying Alligator and Crocodile Leather

1. Apart from alligator and crocodile leather other reptile leathers are sold and here is a hierarchy of different leather types from the reptile family in their order from the best to the least.

  1. American Alligator
  2. Saltwater crocodile
  3. Freshwater crocodile
  4. Caiman

2. Price is a great telling factor that will give you a fair idea of which type of leather is being sold to you. When you find that the price is overly cheap then there’s a chance what you have or looking at isn’t made of genuine exotic leather.

3. Remember to look at the scales of the patterns discussed earlier in this article. You can’t go wrong with that.

4. Before you pay top dollars for the luxury items made of the above types of leather, do well to contact the retailer to confirm key information. In the case where the leather item is imported, you can check on the export document that will provide you with all the information you will need.

5. Check the softness of the leather.

6. Always purchase exotic crocodile or alligator leather items from authorized centers.

Conclusion and How to Pick

In order to set up the price of an exotic item, it does not, however, only depend on the kind of leather it is made of, but also the tanning process used, the production techniques either handmade or not, the parts of the leather that was used and a whole lot of other parameters.

When it comes right down to it, if you need a leather item that is of topnotch quality with a lot of luxury and reverence and you have a huge budget, then get a leather product made from alligator skin. If you want to save a bunch of money and yet still enjoy some level of luxury that comes with exotic reptile leather, then crocodile leather is a great choice. 😀


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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