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The Key Differences Between Geckos and Salamanders

The Key Differences Between Geckos and Salamanders

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The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you’re a fan of the animal kingdom, you’re probably fascinated by all sorts of creatures. You may have also been wondering what the similarities and differences are when it comes to geckos vs salamanders.

One fundamental difference between geckos and salamanders is that the former is a reptile, while the latter is an amphibian. These animals have completely different habitats and feeding habits too. Geckos are omnivores that prefer hot conditions and salamanders prefer moisture.

Read on to find out much more about how geckos and salamanders are different, as well as the things they have in common. As a plus, we’ve included some guidelines on which of these animals would be the right choice for you as a pet.


Geckos are small reptiles that belong to the Gekkonidae species. These little critters are nocturnal and possess soft, smooth skin.

They have relatively large heads in comparison to the size of their bodies. In terms of limbs, they have four of them, each having adhesive tips that allow these animals to climb easily.


These animals prefer hot, moderately humid environments. These brightly colored reptiles can thrive in a diverse range of environments, including deserts, rainforests, and mountainous regions.

You can find geckos in the wild in pretty much any region across the world, with Antarctica being the sole exception.


As we’ve mentioned previously, geckos are quite small. A fully grown adult gecko will typically be between 5 and 24 inches long and will weigh anywhere between 1 and 3.5 ounces.

If you look at a gecko’s skin, you’ll find that it’s silky smooth in texture. However, you’ll also notice small bumps all over a gecko’s skin. In terms of water absorption, these lizards’ skin is completely impermeable.

Perhaps the most fascinating feature of geckos is their limbs.

These animals have feet that are specifically designed for climbing, which geckos do a considerable amount of.

The tips of their feet consist of padded toes that are covered in minuscule forked protrusions.

These spikes help geckos cling onto almost any surface, allowing them to climb the smoothest of surfaces at the toughest of inclinations too.

Some variations of geckos also have retractable claws to assist them in navigating their environment.


As far as their diet goes, geckos are omnivorous animals.

They mostly survive on fruits such as watermelon, papaya, mangoes, and bananas, as well as insects such as flies, crickets, and termites.


Salamanders are amphibians belonging to the Urodela species. These animals are characterized by their moist skin.

While many of them are camouflaged to protect themselves from predators lingering in the wild, there are variations of salamanders that have vibrant, colorful patterns on their skin.

These animals can vary in size, with the largest variation of them being the Chinese giant salamander.


Salamanders can live in a variety of environments. However, the one thing that all of these environments have in common is that they’re moist and in close proximity to water.

Some typical habitats for salamanders include ponds, creeks, and the underbelly of rocks.

Unlike Geckos, these animals can only be found in North and Central America. They call the tropical forests of these regions home.


Salamanders are also incredibly small animals. Fully grown salamanders will reach lengths no bigger than six inches.

In terms of weight, the smallest salamanders will be 4.2 ounces, while the largest ones will be 7 ounces.

The skin of salamanders is super smooth. It’s quite unpleasant to the touch too, due to its sliminess and moist feel.

The reason behind salamanders having such moist skin is their affinity for water. These animals’ skin absorbs water like a sponge.


The diet of salamanders consists exclusively of meat.

They feed on insects and larvae such as flies and worms. In addition to this, they get their nutrients from small mammals such as mice.

Interestingly enough, these animals will sometimes eat some of their fellow amphibians.

Similarities Between Geckos and Salamanders

There are quite a few similarities between geckos and salamanders.

For starters, both of these animals have virtually the same anatomical makeup. They’re both characterized by their small, stout bodies and can be similar in length and weight.

Additionally, both geckos and salamanders have four limbs and a large head.

Furthermore, both of these species have the fascinating ability to regenerate their limbs after a mishap causes them to lose one.

Scientists all over the world have studied this phenomenon with the hopes of applying the same mechanism to regrow human tissue.

Differences Between Geckos and Salamanders

Although they may look similar, geckos and salamanders are actually two highly different species.

In fact, these two animals don’t even belong to the same class of creatures. The former is a reptile, while the latter is an amphibian.

Another distinction between geckos and salamanders is the type of their skin. Like most lizards, geckos have smooth, yet bumpy skin that doesn’t absorb water.

On the other hand, salamanders’ skin is moist and slimy. Additionally, it’s highly permeable to water.

You can also tell the difference between geckos and salamanders based on what each of them eats.

A gecko’s diet consists of both plant-based and meat-based sources of nutrition. They mainly survive on fruits and insects.

Compared to geckos, salamanders have a much more diverse diet. These animals are carnivores that feed on a wide variety of prey.

Their diet consists of larvae, insects, spiders, small mammals, and even other amphibians.

Furthermore, These two animals are highly distinct in the type of environment they prefer to live in.

On the one hand, geckos thrive in hot environments that have moderate humidity. That’s why they’re mostly found in deserts, rainforests, and mountains.

In contrast, salamanders fancy moist environments that are close to water. They mostly live in and around creeks, ponds, and underneath rocks.

The reason behind salamanders’ reliance on water is the way that they reproduce. Salamanders are amphibious, in turn, they lay eggs that don’t have shells.

This means that they need to keep their eggs in water or in a highly moist environment.

On the other hand, the eggs of reptiles have shells, giving them more freedom over where they can settle during their mating season.

Which of Them Make Better Pets?

Now that we’ve explored the ways in which geckos and salamanders differ and the similarities they have, let’s discuss their respective viability as pets.


Both of these animals are perfectly safe to bring into your home as pets. They pose no threat to any of your family members, even young children.

In fact, your kids are the ones that may be a danger to these small creatures if they handle them too roughly.

As for the compatibility of geckos and salamanders with any other pets you may have, they typically get along with other animals but there’s still a small chance of conflicts arising.

Intelligence and Trainability

The first difference between geckos and salamanders as pets is their level of intelligence.

If you want a pet that you can train to learn routines and tricks, then you’re better off going with a gecko. You can even train your gecko to “smile” by rewarding it with food when it does so.

Salamanders can be taught some routines, but not as quickly as their reptilian counterparts.

Care Requirements

If you’re a first-time pet owner who’s inexperienced in caring for an animal, then your best choice for a pet would be a gecko.

All these little lizards need is a terrarium with moderately hot and humid conditions.

The terrarium should be covered with a glass lid to prevent your gecko from escaping.

Doing so is essential because geckos are incredibly fast. If your gecko escapes, good luck trying to get a hold of it.

Another must-have in a gecko tank is climbing material, this’ll allow your gecko to engage in its favorite activity.

Furthermore, geckos are easier to feed due to their simple diet of fruits and insects. Ideally, you should feed an adult gecko twice or three times a week.

For younger geckos, the feeding frequency should be once every other day.

On the other hand, salamanders are a bit more challenging to care for. You’ll need to keep their terrarium damp and humid.

The terrarium should have sand and water in it to make these amphibians feel right at home.

Whichever of these animals you choose to get as a pet, there are certain things you need to keep in mind.

You should make sure that the terrarium is big enough for them to have plenty of room to move around and explore.

Additionally, you should ensure that the terrarium is well-ventilated and that you clean it on a regular basis to keep your gecko or salamander healthy and content.

Final Thoughts

To the untrained eye, geckos and salamanders may seem like they’re virtually one and the same. However, this isn’t the case at all.

When you look at geckos vs salamanders, you’ll find that there are plenty of differences between them.

For starters, these little critters don’t even belong to the same class of animals. Geckos are reptiles while salamanders are amphibians.

Another difference between these two animals is their diet. On one hand, geckos are omnivorous and feed on fruits and insects.

In contrast, salamanders are carnivorous animals that eat larvae, small mammals, and even other amphibians.

One thing’s for sure though, both of these fascinating creatures are a great option to go for if you’re thinking of getting a small pet.

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