Difference Between Lizard and Gecko

Nov 20, 2023
Difference Between Lizard and Gecko

Lizard and Gecko: The suborder Lacertilla is part of the Reptilia. A gecko and a lizard are both Lacertilla. They are both reptiles with overlapping scales and small pads at the bottom of their feet that allow them to hang or cling to walls.

Definition of lizards

Figure-01: lizards

Lizards belong to the order Squamata and suborder Lacertilia. Lizards can be identified by their four-legged structure, scaly surface, and external openings for ears. Furthermore, lizards can regenerate tails at will. Lizards can range in size from millimeters long up to several meters. Lizards can be found living in various ecosystems such as forests, deserts, grasslands, and aquatic environments.

Cold-blooded in nature, they depend on external heat sources for body heating. Lizards come in all colors and patterns, providing camouflage or communication purposes. Some species are herbivorous while others can be carnivorous or omnivorous; all species play an essential role in ecosystems as predators or prey; their appearance and behavior have long captured human interest.

Definition of Geckos

Figure-no-02: Geckos

Geckos belong to a large subtropical and tropical reptile family known as Gekkonidae. Although common throughout warm climates, most diverse species reside there. With adhesive pads on their toes that enable them to climb vertical surfaces or even move upside-down, along with large eyes positioned vertically and an advanced auditory system they adapt well to living nocturnal lifestyles. Their bodies are slim but long tails used as balance or that may grow back if lost; their skin is covered in small granulated scales.

Geckos come in various patterns and colors, from camouflage for hiding within their environment to vibrant markings that stand out and help communicate or select mates. Geckos communicate using vocalizations such as clicking or chirping sounds as well as body postures and movements. Their primary food sources are insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates while some species also eat fruits and nectar.

Many geckos are oviparous, or egg-laying creatures, while others exhibit parthenogenesis – they may lay up to two eggs at once and often conceal them somewhere safe for protection.

Geckos are beloved reptiles, beloved for their entertaining behavior and stunning appearance while being relatively easy to care for. Leopard geckos are among the best-known species while others such as crested and tokay are becoming increasingly common.

Importance of understanding the differences between lizards and geckos

Understanding the difference between geckos and lizards can be useful for several important reasons:

  1. Geckos and lizards belong to separate taxonomic orders within Squamata, so understanding their differences will assist us in accurately classifying these organisms and aid conservation, scientific research, and species identification efforts.
  2. Geckos and lizards play an essential role in maintaining biodiversity and maintaining balanced ecosystems. Understanding their differences helps us gain a better insight into their interactions, such as eating habits, predator/prey relationships, and impacts on local ecology. In doing so we can better promote biodiversity conservation while protecting balance within local ecologies.
  3. Geckos and lizard species face many threats, such as habitat destruction, climate change, and illicit trade. Conservationists who understand their differences can implement effective conservation strategies while also identifying individual species.
  4. Lizards and geckos make delightful pets due to their distinctive appearances and behavior, but pet owners must understand the differences between these groups in order to provide optimal care. Each species requires different accommodations regarding temperature and humidity settings, food sources, overall health needs, etc. By being well informed pet owners can ensure their animals receive optimal treatment.
  5. Scientific Studies Lizards, geckos, and other reptiles make ideal research subjects in fields as diverse as evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, physiology, and genetics. Researchers can use these differences between reptile species to design experiments or formulate hypotheses, drawing accurate conclusions about individual reptile species.
  6. By understanding the differences between geckos and lizards, the public can become aware of reptile diversity and its environmental importance. By disseminating accurate information about these creatures, stereotypes, and misconceptions about them may be dispelled to promote a greater appreciation of these species.

Understanding the differences between geckos and lizards is vitally important to scientific research, education, taxonomy, and conservation efforts. Knowledge of their differences allows one to take proper care in maintaining them while conducting scientific studies as well as educating others.

Physical Characteristics

There are many differences between geckos and lizards, yet certain distinguishing characteristics can help to easily differentiate them.

Here are the key physical features of geckos and lizards:


  1. Body Structure: Lizards typically possess long, slender bodies with an elongated shape. Each leg boasts five clawed toes for fast mobility on land.
  2. Skin Features: Lizards have thick scales on their skin to protect them from water loss. Each species can have unique scale sizes, shapes and textures; these may range from keeled (ridged) scales to smooth.
  3. Tail: Lizard tails tend to be long and tapering, serving multiple functions. Their primary use is maintaining balance while climbing or moving quickly; some species also shed them as part of a defensive mechanism.


  1. Whilst geckos may look small at first glance, their compact bodies and long necks give the illusion that these creatures are large. Furthermore, geckos possess short tails resembling cylindrical structures; in addition, each leg contains five toes for easy mobility.
  2. Geckos have skin covered in fine, granular scales. When touched, these scales usually feel soft and silky to the touch.
  3. Geckos have an unforgettable quality, their adhesive toe pads are covered with microscopic setae that allow them to stick securely onto surfaces such as walls or ceilings and allow them to climb smoothly in different environments. This adaptation gives them a distinct edge over other species.

While these traits tend to apply to all species of lizards, geckos exhibit unique adaptations depending on their ecological niches.

Habitat and Distribution

Habitat and distribution preferences of different species may differ significantly.

Here are some general characteristics that affect their distribution and habitat preferences:

  1. Lizards can be found living in forests, deserts, grasslands, and mountains as well as in water environments like swamps. Each species varies in terms of its ecological needs and adaptations for living in different habitats; some prefer living on land while others can also adapt to arboreal life forms or semiaquatic or aquatic habitats like swamps, rivers, or coastal regions.
  2. Lizard Distribution, Lizards can be found across every continent except Antarctica, inhabiting various ecosystems around the globe. Their distribution depends upon factors like climate, habitat accessibility, and historic biogeography; different species may inhabit specific ranges while some species can even have wider distribution across multiple continents.
  3. Geckos inhabit a variety of environments depending on their species. Most geckos prefer tropical or subtropical climates and can be found living in grasslands, deserts, and scrublands – some geckos have even evolved to live among vegetation or trees, while others are terrestrial or adapted specifically to rockier terrain.
  4. Distribution, Geckos can be found all around the globe, though tropical regions feature the greatest diversity. Geckos have also been reported in Africa and Asia; in America as well. Geckos have an incredible ability to adapt and colonize different environments; some species only inhabit specific islands or regions while others can cover multiple continents!

Lizards and geckos that belong to the same species group may exhibit very diverse habitat preferences and distribution patterns, depending on climate, food availability, competition for space or historical evolution factors. Such differences could influence where these reptiles and amphibians prefer living in their respective populations.

Feeding Habits

Lizards, geckos, and other reptiles vary in their feeding habits depending on their species or ecological niche; here are a few habits common across both groups of reptiles.


  1.  Carnivorous Lizards, Many species of lizard feed their diet solely on animals. Common prey includes insects, spiders, small mammals, and birds as well as reptiles or even other lizards (for instance monitor lizards, some skink species, and other carnivorous lizard species are examples of such feeders).
  2. Herbivorous species of lizards feed on plant matter as their primary food sources, such as leaves, flowers, or fruit. Their digestive systems have evolved specifically for this type of diet; such species include some anoles and iguanas.
  3. Some lizard species eat both plant and animal material, with an extensive diet consisting of insects, plants, fruit, and small vertebrates such as insects. Skinks and agamids are among the many species which feed omnivorously.


  1. Geckos that feed on insects are known as Insectivorous Geckos. To capture their prey, these geckos have evolved specialized adaptations such as sharp teeth and swift reflexes that enable them to capture prey like crickets and flies.
  2. Frugivorous Gecko, Certain geckos are frugivores, feeding on fruits and nectar to disperse seeds across many species. Their strong jaws and wider snout are perfectly tailored for eating fruits; additionally, they contribute to pollination via their nectar feeds on flowers – with New Caledonian Crested Geckos being such examples.
  3. Geckos That Focus Exclusively on Nectar, Certain species have evolved to exclusively feed on nectar. Their mouthparts have long tongues for extracting nectar from flowers; additionally, they transfer pollen between flowers when nectarivorous; Phelsuma day geckos are an example.

Though these habits may be widespread across groups and species, some species might exhibit different feeding methods due to factors like habitat, size and physiology influencing their diets.


There are various strategies used by lizards and geckos alike when it comes to reproduction, such as using different reproductive modes and behaviors. But one thing all these species share when it comes to reproductive strategies, is they both share similar similarities when it comes to their strategies of reproduction.


  1. Viviparity: Certain species of lizards can be classified as viviparous, meaning their embryos grow within the female’s body before receiving nourishment from her placenta and giving birth instead to live young rather than eggs; with this reproductive strategy the offspring have greater chances for survival and protection; common lizards and skinks are examples of such animals.
  2. Oviparity: The vast majority of species of lizards are oviparous, meaning that females deposit eggs into nesting areas such as underground burrows or leaf litter before performing external incubation until hatching occurs – this method of reproduction is common among gecko species and lizards alike.
  3. Ovoviviparity: Some species of lizards exhibit ovoviviparity, combining aspects of both viviparity and oviparity into their reproductive strategy. Females keep the eggs within them until hatching time when embryos leave her body to take part in feeding themselves directly; then she gives live birth once these have sprouted – something often employed by skinks as well as certain populations of common wall lizards.


  1. Geckos can also be viviparous: Although it is more uncommon than with lizards, certain geckos can reproduce via internal fertilization with placentation as the source of nourishment for developing embryos in females and giving live birth; New Caledonian Geckos are prime examples of such creatures.
  2. Geckos reproduce through oviparity: Female geckos deposit the eggs in discrete locations such as leaf litter or underground burrows where they will then remain externally incubated until hatching occurs – this typically takes anywhere between one and five months depending on the species. Geckos produce multiple clutches during each breeding season with individual incubation periods differing depending on species.
  3. Ovoviviparity: Ovovivipary is more common among lizards than geckos; however, some species do employ this reproductive strategy. Eggs are retained by females for up to nine months before developing embryos until hatching occurs and producing live offspring – this process occurs in day geckos belonging to Phelsuma genera and other such geckos.

There are differences among each group. Reproductive strategies of lizards and geckos may depend on factors like species, geographical location, climate conditions or evolutionary history.

Behavior and Adaptations

Lizards, geckos, and other squamates exhibit various behaviors and adaptations determined by their ecological niche and habitat preferences as well as evolutionary history. Here are some common adaptations and behaviors seen among these two groups of animals.


  1. Basking: Lizards that bask are cold-blooded animals who depend on external sources of heat to maintain their body temperature. Basking is a method to raise body temperatures through exposure to direct sunlight; to maximize exposure they often sit on rocks or tree branches for maximum sun exposure.
  2. Tail autotomy: Many species of lizards possess the ability to shed or detach their tails when threatened by predators, diverting attention away from them while giving the lizard time to escape from danger. Over time, however, the tail may regenerate although its new version might differ slightly from before.
  3. Camouflage: Lizards have evolved the ability to use camouflage to blend in seamlessly with their environment, which provides protection from predators while making them harder targets. Certain species even alter the hue or patterns on their skin to blend in more seamlessly – becoming almost undetectable to predators or potential prey alike.


  1. Adhesive Toe Pads: One of the unique adaptations that geckos possess is adhesive pads on their toes. Setae on these toe pads produce an intermolecular force that enables geckos to cling to vertical surfaces and walk on them easily. In their tree habitats, toe pads with adhesive properties allow easy movement for geckos.
  2. Nocturnal Activity: Night-active geckos tend to be most active at night or during twilight hours in order to avoid predators during the day and hunt food more effectively when temperatures are cooler. Their adaptations include large, vertically-oriented eyes with well-developed hearing systems as well as adaptations specifically adapted for low light conditions.
  3. Vocalizations: Their sound repertoire includes chirps and clicks used for communication purposes such as attracting mates, marking territories, deterring rivals from entering them or signaling aggression or submissiveness to others. These vocalizations serve many different functions that help attract potential mates or establish territories; vocalizations also play a vital role in maintaining social hierarchy within colonies and establishing hierarchy or submissiveness within clans.
  4. Wall-Climbing Ability: Geckos have adhesive pads on their toes which allow them to climb walls with ease. Geckos can scale vertical surfaces like smooth glass or walls and even climb upside-down ceilings – using this ability to escape predators and access food quickly as well as taking advantage of arboreal habitats.

These behaviors and adaptations do not comprise an all-inclusive list; various species of geckos and lizards may possess additional behaviors or adaptations depending on their evolutionary history and ecological niche. Furthermore, these groups possess diverse adaptations and behaviors which help them thrive across environments.

Popular Species and Examples


  1. Green Iguana: These large arboreal lizards, often called Iguana iguana, can be found throughout Central and South America, where they’re known for their vibrant green skin coloration and size. Popular pet choices due to their herbivory diet requirements. They require special attention due to their size.
  2. The Bearded Draco: a native Australian reptile, is an increasingly popular pet. These unusual-looking dragons boast distinctive spiky-scaled throats and puff up when threatened. Additionally, this species of reptile is known to eat any foods it finds suitable – making them suitable companions in captivity.
  3. Leopard Geckos: are terrestrial geckos found throughout Pakistan and India that are beloved pets among reptile enthusiasts due to their distinctive patterns and calm temperament. As known, leopard geckos consume insects as food sources and are considered excellent pets by reptile enthusiasts.


  1. Crested Gecko (Correlophus Ciliatus): This species hailing from New Caledonia is often called an Eyelash Gecko due to its distinctive crest adorning both its back and head. Crested Geckos have become increasingly popular pets due to their easy care requirements and vibrant appearance, becoming popular arboreal nocturnal animals with many homes worldwide.
  2. Tokay Gecko: Commonly known as Gekko Geckos, these large species of nocturnal tokay geckos can be found throughout Southeast Asia. Recognizable by its bright blue-gray coloring with orange spots and loud vocalizations, Tokay geckos are well known for their territoriality and adaptability across habitats.
  3. African Fat-Tailed Gecko: Native to West Africa, this small terrestrial gecko with its fat, thick tail is well known as being both friendly and docile, its scales being intricately patterned. An insectivorous feeder, this manageable pet has become popular due to its small size.

Here are several gecko and lizard species that have become extremely popular pet choices, each boasting its own set of special qualities. Before considering any animal as a potential companion animal, it is vital that one understands and researches it thoroughly first.

Similarities between Lizards and Geckos

Geckos and lizards are reptiles with many similarities:

  1. Class: Lizards and geckos belong to the Reptilia class, along with other reptiles such as snakes, turtles, and crocodiles. Both lizards and geckos rely on external heat sources such as sunlight to maintain their body temperatures ectothermically – meaning their body temperatures don’t depend on internal combustion alone for regulation.
  2. Body Structure: Geckos and lizards share many characteristics, from long bodies with distinct tails and heads to feet equipped with five clawed toes allowing for ease of movement on land.
  3. Scales: provide protection and help them retain moisture. Size, shape, and texture may differ depending on the species.
  4. Reproduction: Reproduction Among reptiles, lizards, and geckos employ several reproduction strategies that include viviparity, oviparity, and ovoviviparity; all three may occur simultaneously within each species group with slight variations between groups.
  5. Ecological Roles: Geckos and lizards play an essential part in their respective environments’ ecology, feeding on insects to control insect populations while providing prey for larger predators and thus contributing to food chains.
  6. Adaptations: Lizards, geckos, and other reptiles have evolved with numerous adaptations in order to thrive in their environments. Camouflage allows them to blend in seamlessly, while special climbing legs enable climbing. Furthermore, these reptiles possess unique sensory adaptations for communication and hunting purposes.

Lizards, geckos, and other reptiles share similarities between themselves; yet their species also exhibit vastly different behaviors and characteristics depending on their ecological niches and evolutionary history.


Understanding the difference between geckos and lizards is vital for several reasons. Understanding their species allows us to properly classify them, ensure proper care is provided whether living wild or as pets, and increase understanding of the ecological roles they play in ecosystems and how they interact with other species. Geckos and lizards need our help in order to survive; by understanding their individual traits and needs, we can contribute towards their conservation. Knowing the differences between geckos and lizards is important whether you are studying them as pets or just admiring their beauty.