Alligators and Crocodiles are different species belonging to the order crocodilia, of the class sauropsida. To the layman, the two species are easily confused. (The main visual differences are that alligators have a broader snout and crocodiles show both sets of teeth when their mouths are closed.) Crocodiles are native to the Americas, Africa, Australia, and Asia, whereas alligators are only native to the United States and China. The U.S. is, in fact, the only location where crocodiles and alligators co-exist, although crocodiles are almost extinct in this country.
Alligators and crocodiles have appeared in several Muppet productions over the years, with the same puppets used interchangeably for both species.
The Muppet Show
A crocodile first appeared on The Muppet Show in the "Never Smile at a Crocodile" number on episode 114. Mary Louise rode the crocodile through a swamp, and as she sang, the crocodile ate a series of frogs. In this first appearance, the crocodile puppet had angry eyes and a black mouth.
The crocodile appeared again in "Ugly Song," where he was performed by Frank Oz. Three smaller crocs debuted in episode 214, as back-up singers for Elton John in "Crocodile Rock." For this appearance, the main crocodile puppet was tweaked slightly, having been given eyebrows and a red mouth.
The puppet made sporadic appearances throughout the run of the show, addressed as either an alligator or a crocodile, as called for by the script. The puppets' first appearances as alligators were in episode 221, when Animal took up alligator wrestling as a hobby. The alligators, not surprisingly, lost the match, and one of them could be seen escaping with a white flag of surrender clenched in its mouth.
One of the smaller crocodiles later made audience cameos in Muppets Tonight.
In "MOM! There's an alligator in my room!" a boy named Gerald is put to bed by his parents. As soon as they close the door, his dog Sparky creates an alligator-shaped shadow on the wall and begins singing about being an alligator. When the boy calls for his parents, the dog repeatedly returns to rest under the bed until Gerald realizes it was Sparky all along.
A classic 1971 animated song, "The Alligator King", details the story of an old alligator king and the attempts of his sons to win his crown.
Other Alligators and Crocodiles
Arnie the Alligator, a friend from Kermit's home swamp, scares Bernie the Agent at the beginning of The Muppet Movie. Although played by a animatronic alligator in The Muppet Movie, Arnie was portrayed as a puppet in the direct-to-video prequel, Kermit's Swamp Years.
- The Muppet Show
- Episode 114: Sandy Duncan ("Never Smile at a Crocodile")
- Episode 203: Milton Berle ("Ugly Song")
- Episode 214: Elton John ("Crocodile Rock")
- Episode 221: Bob Hope
- Episode 324: Cheryl Ladd
- Episode 410: Kenny Rogers
- Episode 418: Christopher Reeve
- Episode 419: Lynda Carter (featuring Rezal-evad-gib)
- Episode 501: Gene Kelly ("Jambalaya")
- Episode 524: Roger Moore
- The Muppet Movie ("The Rainbow Connection" Finale)
- The Jim Henson Hour
- The Muppets at Walt Disney World
- Sesame Street
- The Earth Day Special
- The Animal Show
- Muppet Classic Theater
- Muppets Tonight
- Mopatop's Shop