Difference Between Gecko and Lizard (Explained)

Geckos and lizards may look similar, but there are several differences between them. Geckos are a type of lizard, but not all lizards are geckos. Geckos have adhesive toe pads, large, lidless eyes, and soft, pliable skin.

Lizards, on the other hand, have claws, movable eyelids, and tougher, thicker skin. Both geckos and lizards have different behaviors and habitats.

difference between gecko and lizard

Key Takeaways:

  • Geckos have adhesive toe pads, while lizards have claws.
  • Geckos have large, lidless eyes, while lizards have movable eyelids.
  • Geckos have soft, pliable skin, while lizards have tougher, thicker skin.
  • Geckos are primarily nocturnal and quieter than lizards.
  • Geckos are found in various habitats, while lizards are commonly found in warm, dry regions.

Physical Characteristics

Geckos and lizards may share some physical similarities, but they also have distinct characteristics that set them apart.

Geckos are known for their unique ability to climb walls and walk on ceilings, thanks to their adhesive toe pads. These specialized pads allow them to stick to surfaces and move with ease.

Furthermore, geckos have large, lidless eyes that provide them with excellent vision, especially in low light conditions. Their skin is soft and pliable, covered in small, granular scales.

Lizards, on the other hand, have developed claws that help them climb trees and dig into the ground. They also have movable eyelids that protect their eyes from debris and regulate moisture.

Their skin is tougher and thicker than that of geckos, covered in larger, plate-like scales. These scales provide protection and help retain moisture, making lizards more resilient to harsh environments.

Table: Geckos vs Lizards – Physical Characteristics

Characteristics Geckos Lizards
Toe Pads Adhesive Claws
Eyes Large, lidless Movable eyelids
Skin Soft, pliable, small granular scales Tough, thick, larger plate-like scales


Geckos and lizards exhibit distinct behaviors that set them apart. Geckos are primarily nocturnal creatures, meaning they are most active during the night.

They rely on their keen sense of hearing and vision to navigate their surroundings in low light conditions.

When it comes to communication, geckos produce chirping sounds using a specialized vocal apparatus. However, they are generally quieter compared to lizards.

Lizards, on the other hand, can be active during the day (diurnal) or night (nocturnal) depending on the species.

They have a diverse range of vocalizations and body movements to communicate with other lizards or establish territories.

Lizards are known for their ability to engage with their environment through basking, territorial display, and even performing complex courtship rituals.

Movement and Adaptation

Geckos are agile climbers due to their unique adhesive toe pads, which allow them to scale vertical surfaces and even walk upside down on ceilings. This adaptation enables them to access new food sources and escape predators.

In contrast, lizards rely on their sharp claws for climbing trees, rocks, and other surfaces, as well as digging burrows for protection.

Geckos also possess the ability to shed their tail, a behavior known as autotomy, as a defense mechanism when threatened by predators.

The detached tail continues to wiggle, diverting the predator’s attention while the gecko makes its getaway.

Lizards, on the other hand, have thicker and tougher skin that provides them with better protection against environmental hazards and predators.

Social Interaction

Geckos are generally less social than lizards. While some species of geckos can tolerate being housed together, most prefer to live alone.

Lizards, on the other hand, can display social behavior such as living in groups or pairs. They may engage in various forms of communication, including visual displays, head bobbing, and territorial interactions.

Understanding the behavior of geckos and lizards is essential in creating suitable habitats and providing enriching experiences for these reptiles when kept as pets.


Geckos and lizards have adapted to diverse habitats around the world. Let’s explore their preferred environments:

Gecko Habitat

Geckos can be found in a variety of habitats, showcasing their ability to adapt and thrive in different ecosystems.

One notable habitat for geckos is the tropical rainforest, where their unique climbing abilities and excellent camouflage make them well-suited for life among the dense vegetation.

Geckos also thrive in desert regions, where they have developed efficient ways to conserve water and regulate their body temperature.

In fact, some gecko species, like the crested gecko, have been successfully introduced to urban areas, adapting to the artificial environment of human dwellings.

Geckos are arboreal creatures, meaning they are primarily found in trees or shrubs. Their specialized toe pads, which allow them to cling effortlessly to vertical surfaces, make the arboreal habitat ideal for them.

However, some gecko species are also terrestrial, occupying various ground-level habitats.

Lizard Habitat

Lizards are also found in a wide range of habitats, but they generally prefer warm, dry regions. Deserts are a common habitat for many lizard species, where they have adapted to withstand the extreme heat and aridity.

In these environments, lizards have developed unique physiological mechanisms to conserve water, such as efficient kidneys and the ability to extract moisture from their food.

Lizards can also be found in grasslands, forests, and even aquatic habitats. They may occupy burrows or bask in the sun to regulate their body temperature.

Some lizard species, like the green iguana, are excellent swimmers and can live in water bodies such as rivers or lakes.

Similar to geckos, lizards can be arboreal or terrestrial, depending on their species and habitat preferences.

As we can see, geckos and lizards have distinct habitat preferences that reflect their unique adaptations and characteristics.

Understanding their natural habitats can provide valuable insights for those interested in keeping these fascinating reptiles as pets.


Are geckos and lizards the same thing?

No, geckos are a type of lizard, but not all lizards are geckos.

What are the differences between geckos and lizards?

Geckos have adhesive toe pads, large, lidless eyes, and soft, pliable skin. Lizards have claws, movable eyelids, and tougher, thicker skin.

Do geckos and lizards have different behaviors?

Yes, geckos are primarily nocturnal and vocalize through chirping sounds. Lizards can be diurnal or nocturnal and have varied vocalizations and body movements.

Where do geckos and lizards live?

Geckos are found in various habitats, including tropical rainforests, deserts, and urban areas. Lizards are found in warm, dry regions and inhabit deserts, grasslands, forests, and water bodies.

Can geckos and lizards be kept as pets?

Yes, both geckos and lizards can be kept as pets. Popular pet gecko species include the leopard gecko and crested gecko, while popular pet lizard species include the bearded dragon and green iguana.


Geckos and lizards have distinct characteristics, behaviors, and habitats that set them apart. Geckos, with their adhesive toe pads, large eyes, and soft skin, are fascinating creatures.

They primarily feed on insects and make great pets, with popular species like the leopard gecko and crested gecko being sought after.

Lizards, on the other hand, possess claws, movable eyelids, and tough skin covered in larger, plate-like scales.

They have a diverse diet and are also popular as pets, with the bearded dragon and green iguana being popular choices.

Understanding the differences between geckos and lizards is crucial when considering them as pets.

Geckos require specific care, including a proper habitat setup with heating and humidity control.

Lizards, on the other hand, may need larger enclosures and specialized diets. It’s essential to research and provide the appropriate care for these reptiles to ensure their well-being.

Whether you choose a gecko or a lizard as a pet, both offer unique traits and make for interesting companions.

Their striking appearances, distinct behaviors, and ability to adapt to different environments make them captivating creatures to observe and care for.

Remember to consult with experts or reputable sources to ensure you provide the best possible care for your gecko or lizard.

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