Geckos and newts can make cute pets, but can you tell them apart? They look so much alike that some people confuse them.
Want to know the difference between them?
Read on for a detailed overview of geckos and newts. This post compares the two animals in different respects, including their classification, appearance, diet, habitats, etc.
The first major distinction between geckos and newts is their classifications. Despite their resemblance to each other, these two animals aren’t related in any way.
Geckos are reptiles that belong to the lizard family. On the other hand, newts are amphibians and are basically a type of salamander.
When it comes to species, there are more than a hundred species of newts. Geckos, on the other hand, come from a much larger and more diverse group.
In fact, there are around 1,500 different species of geckos. These species are divided into seven distinct groups:
- Eublepharidae – This group has about 30 species in Africa, North America, and Asia. They’re the only geckos with moveable eyelids and no adhesive toes.
- Sphaerodactylidae – This is a large family with 200 species spread around the world.
- Carphodactylidae – This family has around 30 species mostly in Australia.
- Diplodactylidae – This one contains 137 species. These species mostly live in New Caledonia, New Zealand, and Australia. The crested gecko is a popular member of this family.
- Phyllodactylidae – This is a family of 148 species of geckos around the world.
- Gekkonidae – Also known as the common gecko, this family is by far the largest with around 950 species.
- Pygopodidae – This last family comprises about 35 species that look like snakes. These geckos live in Australia and New Guinea.
Newts, per contra, are only about 100 species. They have different colors and pretty much the same habits.
These two animals have different habitats, skins, and reproductive habits. They do share some similarities, though. They possess similar body structures, for instance.
Geckos and newts possess some similarities, such as their bodies and habits:
Both geckos and newts have similar body structures. They’re quite short, with fully-developed limbs. They both also possess large heads and long tails.
Both geckos and newts are nocturnal animals, so they’re awake at night and usually hide during the day. However, some species on both sides are active by day.
In addition, when it comes to their feeding habits. Geckos and newts are carnivorous, though they generally have different diets.
Geckos and newts share a very interesting ability: they both can detach their tails!
For instance, if under attack, both the newt and the gecko would separate their tails from their bodies to aid with escaping. Later, their bodies will grow new ones.
Apart from these few similarities, geckos and newts have a long list of differences, including:
Many people confuse newts and geckos because of their similar looks. However, one closer look can show you a significant size difference.
Geckos are usually larger than newts. They range between 5 and 20 inches, depending on the species.
The smallest gecko is the Jaragua Sphaero dwarf gecko. It happens to be the smallest lizard in the world too. This gecko measures only 0.6 inches. On the other hand, the New Caledonian giant gecko can reach up to 17 inches.
Newts are generally shorter. They typically measure between 3 and 4 inches. That said, the biggest newt is the Great Crested newt, which reaches up to 7 inches.
Both animals have rough skin. Unlike most of their salamander relatives, newts’ skin is granular or covered with scales.
The skin of geckos is even harder due to the presence of tiny setae, which are soft spines that look like hair. They help protect the skin of geckos against dust, water, and dirt.
Thanks to those setae, geckos can climb vertically on walls and even walk on the ceiling.
Geckos and newts come in different ranges of colors. Depending on their species, newts can be:
Interestingly, newts can come in patterns. For instance, the Northern crested newt’s body is brown with a yellow or orange belly; the adult red-spotted newt features yellow or green skin with red spots; the Palmate newt’s skin is brown with dark spots and an orange or yellow belly.
On the other hand, geckos feature a different set of colors and patterns, such as:
Despite this variety of colors, geckos are mostly brown or grey. Such natural colors help them escape predators by blending with the rocks, sand, and dirt around them.
However, some geckos come in vivid colors. For instance, the leopard gecko features bright yellow skin with brown spots; the skin of someday geckos can be electric blue; the crested gecko is red or orange, and the tokay gecko has bright orange spots.
The difference in habitat is mainly caused by the different classifications.
For instance, amphibians are more likely to prefer damp areas. So, you’re more likely to find newts near water.
Typically, you can find newts near ponds, creeks, or any body of water. Depending on the species, newts can be fully or semi-aquatic.
Fully-aquatic newts include:
Semi-aquatic newts include:
Unlike newts, geckos aren’t so fond of water. Their typical habitats range from rainforests to mountains and deserts.
Interestingly, some species of geckos live on trees and near human habitations. Geckos generally prefer dry warm areas.
As mentioned above, geckos and newts are both carnivorous animals. However, they feed on different diets.
For instance, geckos feed on plants and fruits in addition to insects while newts feed on worms, slugs, and beetles in addition to insects.
Interestingly, geckos use their tails to store fats. They rely on the fat they store whenever there’s a food shortage.
Both geckos and newts have very different eggs and reproductive behavior.
For starters, geckos’ eggs are shelled and amniotic, which means they retain their moisture. That suits their naturally dry habitat.
The female geckos lay their eggs under rocks to hide them from predators. A gecko’s egg takes between 35 and 90 days to hatch.
Geckos don’t show any interest in their off-springs. However, the little ones don’t seem to bother since they act and move like adults from day one
On the other hand, newt eggs aren’t protected by shells, which makes them unprotected. So, newts lay their eggs underwater as they need moisture.
A female newt may lay up to about 400 eggs. She usually leaves them on the leaves of water plants. Interestingly enough, newts, too, don’t care for their young.
The newt’s eggs tend to hatch after 10 to 20 days. The tadpoles feed on small insects and the algae in the water.
In addition to their distinct eggs, both animals also have different fertilizing habits. Geckos fertilize their eggs internally, while some species of newts practice external fertilization.
The mating behavior is another major distinction between geckos and newts.
Newt males attract females by wagging their tails. When they get together, the male simply releases sperm, and the female passes over them to fertilize the eggs inside her. This is mainly because newts have no intromittent organs.
As for geckos, their males attract females by tail vibration and mating sounds. Unlike newts, these animals have a pair of hemipenes for mating.
While mating, the male gecko uses his jaws to hold the skin at the back of the female’s neck. Then, he puts his tail under her abdomen to reach her cloacal.
Geckos are super intelligent pets. They can be easily trained. On the other hand, newts can learn some tricks, but they aren’t as highly trainable as geckos.
Although there are around 1500 species of gecko, you can domesticate around a dozen of them, including:
- The Giant Day Gecko
- The Frog-Eyed Gecko
- The Central American Banded Gecko
- The White Lined Gecko
- The Leopard Gecko
Geckos can be kept in glass containers to prevent them from escaping, you’ll need to clean their place and probably disinfect it from time to time. In addition, they prefer living in warm climates.
Given their eating habits, keeping geckos can be easier than keeping newts. You don’t have to feed your geckos live insects all the time. You can rather rely on flower nectar and fruits.
When keeping a gecko, make sure you have plenty of space to allow your pet to move and climb freely.
Newts and geckos live up to 20 years when kept in captivity under the right conditions. Their long lifespan makes them great companions. They’re also fascinating colorful pets for children.
Both animals have several predators that affect their well-being. In addition, each animal has its own distinct defense mechanism.
First of all, the predators vary according to the species. However, general predators for newts include:
Unfortunately, these predators prey on eggs, larvae, and younger animals. For example, the Blue Heron bird scoops water with newt eggs.
So, what about adult newts? Adult newts are hard to prey on, though not impossible. This is only due to the development of their defense mechanisms.
Adult newts use their skin to release neurotoxins that ward off predators. In addition, with their natural colors, newts can blend with their surroundings, escaping predators.
Unfortunately, some predators such as the garter snakes can resist the toxins released by newts.
When it comes to geckos, we find a different set of predators, such as:
Many people confuse newts and geckos, though these two animals are quite distinct.
In comparing geckos vs. newts, you’ll see many differences between them. These distinctions include their skin, color, habitat, predators, and reproductive behavior.
No matter which animal you choose as a pet, both geckos and newts can make amazing pets with attractive colors and intriguing looks and textures.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.