What Is the Difference Between Lizards and Geckos?

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Geckos are types of lizards, but have several physical features, such as shorter and broader heads and sticky feet, that distinguish them from other types of lizards. Geckos and lizards live in many areas around the world and are particularly well-suited for life in hot and dry locations, such as the American southwest and deserts in the Middle East.

There are over 100 different genera and approximately 1,000 species of geckos that live in the wild around the world. Although this family of nocturnal reptiles is large, there are even more species within the broader family of lizards. Although they are closely related, there are several physical traits that make it easy to distinguish geckos from other types of lizards. Most geckos have the ability to climb trees, and do so using tiny sticky pads that act as small suctions and are located on the bottoms of their four feet. Geckos also have longer toes that help them grasp the surfaces of tree bark and branches; their toes are covered with tiny hair-like extensions that help them scale uneven surfaces. Geckos have shorter and broader heads than many lizards, and also have short and stubby tails, in contrast to the long and narrow tails found on other lizards.