Gecko vs. Lizard: Which One Makes a Great Pet?

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Lizards are cold-blooded vertebrates that are found in large numbers in almost any kind of environment. Except for the colder continent, like Antarctica, lizards can be found on every continent. Lizards belong to the class Reptilia, with around 6000 species, of which 1500 species are of Geckos. So when it comes to the gecko vs. lizard discussion, there is a lot of misconception about the two reptiles. Not many know the difference between gecko and lizard.

But you need not worry—we have discussed both these creatures in detail for you to get the hang of it. So, let’s get started.

What is a Lizard?

Lizards belong to the class Reptilia and order Squamata. They usually have four legs, but some may have two legs, while some may also be without legs. They have external auditory canals and eyelids that are movable. Their bodies can have frills, wings, and some even have horns on their heads. Their bodies are found in a variety of colors, different shapes, and various sizes. They have small heads, elongated and slender bodies, and long tails.

What is a Gecko—Is Gecko a Lizard?

Yes, a gecko is a type of lizard. They also belong to the class Reptilia, but Gekkonidae order. There are an estimated 1500 different species of geckos, scattered throughout the world. They can be found in all hot or humid environments. Geckos are small to medium in size and come in bright and vibrant colors. Geckos are nocturnal creatures—they become more active during the night and also feed on insects during that time.

Appearance of Geckos vs. Lizards

A lizard’s skin is scaly and dry, while a Gecko’s skin is translucent and has bumps on it. Lizards have external auditory canals instead of ears, and their eyelids are movable. Geckos, in contrast, do not have eyelids. Instead, they have a thin and translucent membrane over their eyes. They use their tongues to clean their membranes.

As geckos are nocturnal creatures and hunt at night, they have large pupils to help them see clearly during darkness. Geckos have special toepads which provide them support to attach their bodies and climb vertical surfaces. Lizards, however, do not have this specialty. Geckos have big toes which are covered with skin. These flaps of skin contain numerous bristles. Lizards, on the other hand, have feet with claws.

One of the interesting features of geckos is their ability to detach their tails when encountered by a predator. They shed their tails, which keep wiggling in its place and distract a predator, while they run away and hide. It is pertinent to mention here that if you have a gecko as a pet, you shouldn’t hold them from their tails as these are fragile and can easily detach.

Gecko vs. Lizard: The Similarities and Comparison Between the Two

When it comes to the physical appearance of these two, there are some clear differences. Below, we have touched upon these differences one by one.

  • Length: An adult lizard is about 8 – 10 inches long, whereas an adult gecko is around 5 – 8 inches in length.
  • Weight: A lizard can weigh from 2 ounces – 330 pounds when fully grown, while an adult gecko weighs a mere 2 – 3 ounces.
  • Habitat: Lizards are found in various kinds of the environment, but a gecko, on the other hand, can only be found in a hot and humid environment, which is mostly tropical.
  • Lifespan: A lizard lives up to 100 years in favorable conditions, whereas a gecko can live from 10 – 15 years. 

Food: What Do Lizards and Geckos Eat?

A lizard typically feeds on ants, snails, mosquitoes, spiders, flies, and ants. Some lizards prey upon other small mammals. Some of the lizards are also herbivorous—they only survive by feeding upon plants.

On the other hand, a gecko eats a variety of foods, such as fruits, flowers’ nectar, and insects. One of their unique features is their ability to store fats in their tails. They use this fat to survive when they cannot find food for long.

Which One Can You Keep as a Pet?

So, between a gecko and a lizard, which one of the two makes a great pet? To be very clear, it is possible to keep any of these two reptiles as pets, but they need very special care and specific living conditions. Looking after them and providing them with a suitable environment and proper husbandry arrangements are needed to keep them thriving and healthy. They should be provided with an adequate diet, suitable habitat, and proper lighting to keep their body temperatures in control. With improper UVB lighting, they can become very sick or even die. So, it is important to do thorough research before you bring a lizard or gecko to your home.

4 Fun Facts about Lizards

  • Lizards are most active during the daytime because they need the heat of the sun to warm their bodies.
  • They are cold-blooded, which means they cannot heat their bodies on their own. Their body temperature depends on and changes with their environment.
  • They are social and can be seen moving around in groups.
  • Most lizards can swim, and some can even do better than swimming—they can walk on water. A Green Basilisk lizard is popular for its ability to walk on water.

4 Fun Facts about Geckos

  • They can stick to any kind of surface—thanks to their toe pads. They can even stick to a glass top or climb and cling to a vertical surface.
  • Their eyes are very sensitive to light and can see very clearly even in dim lights. They can see 350 times more clearly in the dark than a human’s eyes. This helps them hunt easily in a night’s darkness.
  • They can make odd sounds, such as barking, chirping, clicking, and other similar sounds. They use different sounds to communicate a variety of things, like giving a warning to competitors to stay away from their area, to attract potential mates, or to avoid any brawls.
  • They can detach their tails when they encounter a predator. It is in a bid to distract their predators with the wiggling tail while they run to hide and save themselves.

To conclude the gecko vs. lizard debate, it is safe to say both lizards and geckos are unique in their own ways, and both have various fascinating features. They have an important role in keeping the balance of our ecosystem in check. These are kept as pets by many people, but they need to be taken proper care of. If you are planning to bring any one of these to your home, we urge you to do proper research and make suitable living arrangements for them.


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