They say the easiest way to tell an alligator from a crocodile is to look at the teeth.
An alligator will have the top teeth visible when their mouths are closed, and a crocodile will have the bottom teeth visible.
If you’re still not sure, it may not matter.
Dreams are mostly an internal conversation. Their meaning depends on what the different components of the dream mean to you.
Understand the other parts of the reptile dream
The spiritual significance of the appearance of alligators (or crocodiles) in your dream depends on a couple of different factors: the viewpoint of the dream, the other parts of the dream, and your feelings about those huge reptiles.
According to Carl Jung’s theory of dreams and dreaming, people have a shared symbolism related to alligators and crocodiles. This means that without definite experience, people can have a frame of reference to alligators they’ve genetically inherited. This is known as Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious.
It can be hard to wrap your mind around, but the theory seems to be borne out by some research.
It’s also worth noting how personal experience overrides any meaning from the collective unconscious.
For example, suppose you’ve had an influential teacher who emphasized the role alligators play in the ecosystem. In that case, you’re inclined to have a different view of alligators than someone who never had that teacher or someone else who got bitten by one.
Common alligator dream symbolism
Alligators often represent lying in wait and trapping. The same goes for crocodiles. Sometimes people think that alligators and crocodiles envenomate their prey to kill them, and that’s another meaning that dreams of alligators allude to even though they don’t. Instead, alligators have antibodies in their blood that allow them to eat venomous reptiles like snakes without getting poisoned.
As noted above, the meaning of a particular dream about alligators depends on the viewpoint. Are you the alligator in the dream? If so, your subconscious may be counseling you to wait patiently to let your trap take effect.
Or, on the other hand, are you the potential victim? Is the crocodile going to attack?
Your viewpoint is going to influence your feelings about the dream. You’re naturally going to be more sympathetic to the view expressed.
Other alligator dream modifiers
Is it a giant alligator in the dream? Are there more than one of them? Are the alligators an odd color? These are all part of the dream message and can be sussed out by one question, “What does this mean to me?”
Other symbols in the dream could be anything like trees, walls, fences, bedrooms, or whatever. Try to remember them all, jogging your memory with the PACTREPS mnemonic. Their presence in your dream and what they mean to you can influence your understanding of what your dream about alligators means.
For further reading:
James Cobb, RN, MSN, is an emergency department nurse and the founder of the Dream Recovery System. His goal is to provide his readers with simple, actionable ways to improve their health and maximize their quality of life.
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