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Iguana vs. Gecko: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 16, 2024
Iguanas are large, arboreal lizards known for their imposing size and herbivorous diet, while geckos are smaller, often nocturnal lizards with unique toe pads that allow them to climb smooth surfaces.
Iguana vs. Gecko

Key Differences

Iguanas are notable for their large size and robust bodies, typically found in the Americas, whereas geckos are smaller, more versatile in habitat, and found worldwide. Both reptiles are part of the lizard family, but iguanas are mainly herbivorous, while geckos have a varied diet, often including insects.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 16, 2024
In terms of physical appearance, iguanas possess a distinctive crest of spines along their back and a dewlap under their chin, features absent in geckos. Geckos, on the other hand, are recognized for their vocalizations and ability to produce sounds, which is rare among iguanas.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 16, 2024
Habitat preferences also differ; iguanas prefer arboreal or semi-aquatic environments, often seen basking in the sun. Geckos are adaptable, inhabiting a range of environments from rainforests to deserts, and are known for their ability to climb even vertical glass surfaces.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 16, 2024
Reproduction in iguanas involves laying eggs in burrows, and they show little to no parental care, similar to most geckos. However, some gecko species display unique reproductive traits like live birth or parthenogenesis, where females reproduce without male fertilization.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 16, 2024
In terms of interaction with humans, iguanas are often kept as exotic pets and require spacious habitats, whereas geckos, due to their smaller size and less demanding space requirements, are more commonly found as household pets. Both, however, require specific care to thrive in captivity.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 16, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Size

Large, up to 6 feet
Small, a few inches
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Jan 16, 2024

Diet

Mainly herbivorous
Insectivorous/varied
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Habitat

Arboreal/semi-aquatic
Versatile, wide range
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Physical Features

Spiny crest, dewlap
Toe pads for climbing
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Behavior

Solitary, sun-basking
Nocturnal, vocal
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Iguana and Gecko Definitions

Iguana

A reptile often kept as an exotic pet, requiring specialized care.
She built a large enclosure to accommodate her pet iguana.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 11, 2024

Gecko

A lizard with the ability to shed its tail as a defense mechanism.
The gecko escaped from its predator by shedding its tail, which kept wriggling.
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Jan 11, 2024

Iguana

A symbol of resilience and adaptability in various cultures.
The iguana, with its ability to survive in diverse environments, symbolizes endurance.
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Gecko

A small, nocturnal lizard known for its unique vocalizations.
The gecko's chirping at night added to the ambience of the tropical resort.
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Iguana

A large, tree-dwelling lizard native to Central and South America.
The iguana basked in the sun on a tropical tree branch.
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Gecko

Often a household guest in warm regions, known for insect control.
The family was happy to have a gecko in their home to keep the mosquito population down.
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Iguana

A herbivorous reptile known for its vibrant green color and spiny back.
In the rainforest, the green iguana blended perfectly with the leaves.
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Jan 11, 2024

Gecko

A reptile with adhesive toe pads enabling it to climb smooth surfaces.
The gecko effortlessly climbed the window pane, hunting for insects.
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Iguana

Any of various usually large herbivorous lizards of the subfamily Iguaninae, often having a dorsal crest and found chiefly in tropical America.
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Gecko

A diverse group of lizards, found in various climates worldwide.
On her trip to the desert, she was fascinated by the different types of geckos.
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Iguana

A green iguana (Iguana iguana), a large tropical American lizard often kept as a pet.
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Gecko

Any of various chiefly nocturnal tropical and subtropical lizards of the family Gekkonidae, characteristically having toe pads covered with numerous tiny bristles that adhere to vertical surfaces.
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Iguana

(zoology) Any member of the genus Iguana.
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Gecko

Any lizard of the family Gekkonidae. They are small, carnivorous, mostly nocturnal animals with large eyes and adhesive toes enabling them to climb on vertical and upside-down surfaces.
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Iguana

Colloquially, in America and the Pacific, any of several members of the lizard family Iguanidae.
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Gecko

(rare) To move in the manner of a gecko; to attach to a vertical or upside-down surface.
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Iguana

Colloquially, in Africa, any large member of the genus Varanus, especially the aquatic Nile monitor (see leguan).
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Jan 10, 2024

Gecko

Any lizard of the family Geckonidæ. The geckoes are small, carnivorous, mostly nocturnal animals with large eyes and vertical, elliptical pupils. Their toes are generally expanded, and furnished with adhesive disks, by which they can run over walls and ceilings. They are numerous in warm countries, and a few species are found in Europe and the United States. See Wall gecko, Fanfoot.
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Iguana

Any member of the genus Varanus (see goanna).
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Gecko

Any of various small chiefly tropical and usually nocturnal insectivorous terrestrial lizards typically with immovable eyelids; completely harmless
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Shumaila Saeed
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Iguana

Any species of the genus Iguana, a genus of large American lizards of the family Iguanidæ. They are arboreal in their habits, usually green in color, and feed chiefly upon fruits.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 10, 2024

Iguana

Large herbivorous tropical American arboreal lizards with a spiny crest along the back; used as human food in Central America and South America
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Shumaila Saeed
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Iguana

A species of lizard famous for its dewlap, used in communication and thermoregulation.
The male iguana extended its dewlap to impress a potential mate.
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Jan 11, 2024

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is the significance of an iguana's tail?

Iguanas use their tails for balance when climbing and as a defense mechanism against predators.
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Jan 16, 2024

Can geckos really walk on walls and ceilings?

Yes, most geckos can walk on smooth surfaces, including walls and ceilings, thanks to their specialized toe pads.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

What is the typical lifespan of an iguana?

Iguanas typically live for 15-20 years in the wild and can live longer in captivity with proper care.
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Jan 16, 2024

How do geckos reproduce?

Most geckos lay eggs, but some species give live birth.
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How do iguanas regulate their body temperature?

Iguanas are ectothermic and regulate their body temperature through basking in the sun and seeking shade.
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Jan 16, 2024

Do iguanas have good eyesight?

Yes, iguanas have excellent vision, which helps them navigate through their arboreal habitat.
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Are geckos solitary or social animals?

Geckos are generally solitary, coming together only for mating purposes.
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How do geckos communicate?

Geckos communicate through a variety of sounds, body postures, and sometimes visual signals.
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Jan 16, 2024

Can geckos change color?

Some gecko species can change their color, but not as dramatically as chameleons.
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What type of habitat do iguanas prefer?

Iguanas prefer arboreal or semi-aquatic environments with plenty of sun exposure.
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Jan 16, 2024

Can iguanas swim?

Yes, many iguana species are excellent swimmers and often use water as a means of escape from predators.
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Do geckos have eyelids?

Most gecko species lack eyelids and clean their eyes with their tongue.
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Jan 16, 2024

Are iguanas dangerous to humans?

While not typically dangerous, iguanas can bite or whip with their tail if threatened or improperly handled.
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What do geckos eat?

Geckos primarily eat insects, but some species may also consume fruit and nectar.
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What are the common predators of iguanas?

Birds of prey, snakes, and larger mammals are common predators of iguanas.
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What do iguanas eat?

Iguanas are primarily herbivorous, feeding on leaves, flowers, and fruits.
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How long can geckos live?

The lifespan of geckos varies by species, but many can live between 5-10 years.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

Can iguanas be trained?

Iguanas can be trained to some extent, especially regarding handling and feeding routines.
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Jan 16, 2024

Do geckos have good night vision?

Yes, geckos generally have excellent night vision, aiding their nocturnal lifestyle.
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Are geckos good pets for beginners?

Some gecko species, like the leopard gecko, are considered good pets for beginners due to their manageable size and relatively simple care requirements.
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Shumaila Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

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Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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