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Geckos vs. Skinks (How Different Are They?)

Geckos vs. Skinks (How Different Are They?)

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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.

To the untrained eye, it isn’t that hard to tell the differences between a gecko and a skink. Although they both are lizards, scientists classify them into separate families.

Despite the few similarities, geckos and skinks differ in many more aspects, like body features, shape, skin texture, and movement.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need about the similarities and differences between geckos and skinks.

Gecko vs. Skink: Overview

A gecko is a type of lizard that belongs to the family “Gekkonidae”, under the infra-order “Gekkota.”

In fact, geckos are among the largest groups of the lizard species, with many various families.

Skinks are another type of lizard, and they belong to another huge family group, scientifically known as “Scincidae.”

Gecko vs. Skink: Similarities

The two reptiles are types of crawling, scaled lizards, and they have quite a few other similarities, like:

1 – Skin Color

Mostly, geckos have bright colors. In surrounding nature, you can spot yellow, green, orange, red, or even blue geckos.

Similarly, skinks come in a wide range of colors. Although many are brown or gray, you can still see a stunning iridescent, bright orange, or green skink.

2 – Habitat

Those reptiles don’t have a specific preferred type of habitat. They live in various areas, ranging from sea level altitude to over 7000 feet above.

Additionally, they inhabit all continents except for Antarctica. So, whether it’s grassland, forests, rocky outcrops, deserts, or tussock grasses, geckos and skinks call it home.

3 – Diet

The diets of both reptiles are kind of similar. Both species feed on insects, such as moths, beetles, worms, and flies. Some of them even eat the remains of dead animals.

Although most skinks are insectivores, some of them eat berries and flower nectars, just like geckos do.

Overall, both of their diets depend on the kind of habitat they live in. So, they eat a variety of available insects, fruits, vegetables, and leaves.

4 – Other Similarities

Check out a few other common attributes that geckos and skinks share.

  • Using their tongue to smell
  • Excellent hearing, sight, and smell senses
  • The ability to self-amputate the tail when in danger
  • The amputated tail can regrow

Gecko vs. Skink: Differences

Geckos and skinks may have much more differences than you think. Not only do they differ in outer appearance, but they also have distinctive movements, personalities, and lifestyles.

Take a look at some of the most significant differences between geckos and skinks:

1 – Body Composition

There are a few bodily features that set geckos apart from skinks. These features are quite easy to identify by just looking at both types of lizards.

Body Shape

Geckos have a flattened body shape, while skinks’ bodies are longer with more tubular shapes than their cousins.

Head Shape

A skink’s head is slender and snake-like, with a non-pronounced neck that’s as thick as the head. That’s why some legless skinks appear to look like snakes.

Contradictory, the neck of a gecko is somehow well-defined, and the head is a bit broad, resembling frogs.


The eyes of a skink are small, with the ability to blink and keep them moist. Contrarily, geckos have large and bulgy eyes.

Unlike skinks, geckos can’t blink. Rather, they have clear eyelids protecting their eyes. Consequently, they use their long tongue to lick their eyes for moisture and cleaning.

Due to mostly being nocturnal, geckos have vertical pupils that allow them to block light and see better in the dark.

Skinks, on the other hand, have round pupils that allow them to enjoy the daylight and bask in the sun.

Skin Texture

Skinks have smooth, tight, and shiny skin with fairly large scales, while geckos have loose and velvety skin.

Moreover, the scales covering geckos are tiny, which gives them a smooth appearance.

That’s why, when it comes to shedding, skinks tend to shed one whole piece of skin or a few large pieces. As for geckos, they shed much smaller patches of skin.

2 – Habitat

Most geckos are arboreals, which means they prefer to reside on trees.

In fact, with reasonable access to food and water, a gecko is often expected to remain in the same group of trees for the rest of its life.

On the contrary, skinks like to live on the ground, where they can hide between rocks and tree logs. That’s why you can find many of them in areas with overgrown grass.

3 – Movement

In general, skinks can move faster than geckos. That’s due to the nature of their body shape, especially legless skinks.

Although geckos aren’t as fast as their cousins, they’re able to climb up just about any object.

This is because they have “sticky” feet with microscopic hairs covering their toes. Those little bristles allow geckos to grip many surfaces, no matter how smooth.

Actually, the exact science behind how their toes work isn’t fully discovered. However, one of the theories states that the electrostatic interaction enables them to climb all surfaces.

4 – Vocals

Geckos tend to communicate using different sounds, like chirping, squeaking, and sometimes, clicking.

Skinks aren’t as vocal as geckos. That said, they produce some noises, like hissing and occasional squeaking.

5 – Domestication

Geckos are much more popular to have as a pet than skinks. In fact, aside from the blue-tongued species, you rarely find skinks in the pet market.

In general, geckos have a reputation for being easy to maintain. Moreover, they tend to live longer in captivity than in the wild.

6 – Reproduction

Most geckos reproduce by laying eggs, which happens once a year. Normally, they lay one to two eggs in a clutch. However, some species may produce a yearly total of four to six clutches.

Depending on the species, the eggs can take anywhere from 30 to 80 days to hatch.

That said, some types of skinks are similar to geckos when it comes to laying eggs. Nevertheless, many of them carry the eggs inside their bodies for extended periods.

Eventually, the eggs hatch inside, and the female skink gives birth to live babies (usually between six to twenty babies each year).

Either way, young lizards are widely known to be self-sufficient and fully independent. So, they don’t rely on their parents in any way during their life.

7 – Life Span

The lifespan of lizards varies depending on factors like nutrition, healthcare, and the surrounding environment. Typically, these factors aren’t perfectly present in the wild.

That’s why reptiles in captivity may live much longer than their wild peers (almost double the age).

Naturally, skinks don’t live as long as geckos do, but the overall life span of both reptiles widely differs among species.

Some skinks species don’t live for more than three years, while others grow to reach 20 years of age.

Similarly, the lifespan of geckos averagely stretches from 6 to 30 years, although some species have reportedly exceeded 40 years of age.

Final Thoughts

Geckos and skinks have impressive features that make them wanted in the pet market. So, if you’re looking for such a pet, it’s essential to know the differences between a geckos and skinks.

Looking closely, you find many features that enable you to tell a gecko apart from a skink, including skin texture, eyes, head, and body shape.

However, there’s more to reptiles than just looks. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to research their environment and nutrition requirements.

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