Difference Between Geckos and Salamanders (with Table)

Diversity in living organisms can be experienced everywhere on planet Earth. The organisms vary in their physical appearance, habitat, nutrition, reproduction and a lot more criteria in general.

The hierarchy of classification is vast and very interesting when understood. The organisms belonging to the same Kingdom may differ in their Phylum, those belonging to the same genus may differ in their species, and so on. This results in extreme confusion among organisms.

Two such examples are Geckos and Salamanders. They belong to the same Kingdom and the same Phylum. Despite such similarities, they are very different from each other. They vary in their Class, Order, Genus and Species.

Geckos vs Salamanders

The difference between geckos and salamanders is that a gecko is a reptile, whereas a salamander is an amphibian, i.e. they belong to class Reptilia and class Amphibia respectively.

Comparison Table Between Geckos and Salamanders

Parameters of ComparisonGeckosSalamanders
SpeciesThe gecko species diversity ranges up to almost 1500 different types. Whereas, there are over 350 different species of salamanders alone.
SkinGeckos have variably smooth and rough skin as compared to salamanders. Salamanders have moist, smooth and sometimes slimy skin.
PermeabilityThey are impermeable to water.Whereas, salamanders are permeable.
HabitatMany species have colonized the trees and a group of species even possess wing-like membranes having gliding ability. Some also live in arid deserts. Many of them never leave the water, unlike geckos. Few species undertake the trees. Moreover, salamanders specifically live in damp habitats.
MorphologyGenerally, these are 1 foot in length. Even the largest gecko species barely exceed a foot and weigh less than 1 pound.A few aquatic salamanders may reach more than 2 feet in length and the world’s largest salamanders, or the Asian salamanders maybe 5 feet long or more and weigh more than 75 pounds.
ReproductionGeckos practice internal fertilization and the males use paired hemipenes for sperm transfer. Some of them practice external fertilization, and some perform internal fertilization by juxtaposing their cloacas; without having any external organ for the same.
DietMost species prey on insects, worms and other invertebrates, and a few species feed on flower nectar and soft fruits as well. Carnivorous in nature, they feed on insects, worms etc. Aquatic salamanders feed specifically on aquatic invertebrates, but larger species hunt fish and other salamanders as well.

What is Gecko?

To begin with, geckos are small lizards belonging to infraorder Gekkota of order Squamata. These are generally found in warm climates and range from 1.6 to 60cm (I.e. 0.64 to 24 inches) in length.

Most geckos use chirping sounds to interact socially and some species are even capable of making a hissing noise when alarmed or threatened.

Some of the species lack eyelids. So they possess a fixed lens to see in darkness. Since they cannot blink, they generally lick the dust and dirt off their corneas to keep them clean and moist.

On the other hand, Nocturnal geckos which evolved from diurnal species that had lost the eye rods; have excellent night vision.

These organisms are capable of climbing even smooth vertical surfaces as they possess sticky toe-pads. During this process, they tend to generate a stereotyped wall reaction force pattern at all speeds. They alternatively push or pull a mass along a rail or in a vertical plane.

Otherwise known as that group of lizards that are species-rich, geckos like most lizards can lose their tail in defense.

What is Salamander?

Salamanders are a group of amphibians, almost same as lizards in physical appearance. All present-day salamander families are grouped under the order Urodela.

They are mostly found in cool and damp places such as Northern Hemisphere, Holarctic realm and Neotropical realm.

They generally have more than four toes on their front legs and five on their rear legs, but some species have fewer in number and others lack hind limbs.

Having the capability of regenerating lost limbs as well as other body parts, they are now considered by researchers for potential human medical applications.

The skin of some species contains the powerful poison tetrodotoxin; these generally tend to be slow-moving and produce warnings to advertise their toxicity.

Coming to the terrestrial salamanders, they have a great variety of adaptations that protect them against some predators. Some behavioral patterns include an increase in the apparent size of the salamanders and then placing their anti-predator secretions (I.e. from the granular glands) in closest proximity to the predator.

Main Differences Between Geckos and Salamanders

  1. Geckos are lizards that belong to the class Reptilia, whereas, the salamanders come under the class Amphibia.
  2. Salamanders reside in water, rather they rarely leave it, in contrast to the geckos which do not even enter the water.
  3. Geckos can be found mostly in warm climates (arid deserts also), but the case is different with salamanders. They live in damp habitats.
  4. There are about 1500 gecko species present in the world today, whereas the salamanders have almost 350 different species present today.
  5. With relatively smooth skin, geckos are impermeable to water, whereas salamanders have smooth and moist skin which is sometimes slimy, and is very permeable to water.
  6. Normally, both the creatures are less than 1 foot in length, but some species of salamanders can be more than 2 feet long.


It is now clear that Geckos and Salamanders are very different creatures. Though they resemble each other in their shapes and sizes but are different in their morphology and also have distinct characteristic traits.

Separated by millions of years of evolution, both organisms have an individual contribution to the ecosystem. There are many such organisms like geckos and salamanders that are not typically known and therefore, often misinterpreted with others in general. But they do have an equal share in our environment and deserve every bit of it.


  1. https://jeb.biologists.org/content/209/2/260.short
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1443271?seq=1