Difference Wiki

Iguana vs. Gecko: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 21, 2024
Iguanas are large, tree-dwelling lizards, often green, native to Central and South America, while geckos are smaller, diverse in color, found worldwide, known for their vocalizations and wall-climbing abilities.

Key Differences

Iguanas predominantly live in the rainforests of Central and South America, thriving in a warm, humid climate. Geckos, on the other hand, have a more diverse habitat range, found across various climates and regions worldwide, from tropical rainforests to deserts.
Iguanas are characterized by their robust build, large scales, and a row of spines running down their back to the tail. Geckos are smaller, often with softer skin, and come in a variety of colors and patterns. They lack the spiny back of the iguana.
Iguanas are primarily herbivorous, spending most of their time in trees. They are known for their stillness and sunbathing habits. Geckos are more diverse in diet, with some species being insectivorous or omnivorous. They are known for their agility and ability to climb walls and ceilings.
Iguanas have strong limbs for climbing and a powerful tail they can use defensively. Geckos are renowned for their specialized toe pads that allow them to adhere to and climb vertical surfaces, even glass.
Iguanas are often kept as pets, valued for their impressive size and prehistoric appearance. Geckos are also popular in the pet trade, particularly species like the leopard gecko, and are famous for their vocalizations and harmless nature.

Comparison Chart


Large, up to 6 feet including tail
Smaller, ranging from 1.6 to 60 cm


Rainforests of Central/South America
Worldwide, diverse habitats


Mostly herbivorous
Insectivorous, omnivorous

Physical Traits

Robust, spiny back, green color
Soft skin, varied colors, toe pads


Tree-dwelling, sunbathing
Agile, vocal, wall-climbing

Iguana and Gecko Definitions


A herbivorous reptile known for its distinctive spiny back.
The iguana nibbled on leaves, its spines casting shadows in the sunlight.


A member of the family Gekkonidae, diverse in color and pattern.
The brightly colored gecko blended perfectly with the forest foliage.


A large, arboreal lizard native to Central and South America.
The green iguana perched atop a branch, surveying its rainforest domain.


A lizard with unique toe pads that allow it to adhere to various surfaces.
The gecko used its sticky toe pads to capture insects on the ceiling.


A reptile often kept as a pet for its impressive size and unique appearance.
She built a large enclosure for her pet iguana to roam freely.


A small to medium-sized lizard, known for its ability to climb smooth surfaces.
The gecko effortlessly scaled the glass window, defying gravity.


A species of lizard belonging to the genus Iguana.
Biologists studied the behaviors of the iguana in its natural habitat.


A nocturnal reptile with vocal abilities, found in warm climates.
At night, the distinct chirping of the gecko filled the tropical air.


A lizard with a long tail, capable of autotomy (detaching its tail).
The iguana escaped its predator by sacrificing its tail, a survival tactic.


An insectivorous reptile, often seen in homes and gardens.
A gecko lurked near the porch light, hunting for moths and bugs.


Any of various usually large herbivorous lizards of the subfamily Iguaninae, often having a dorsal crest and found chiefly in tropical America.


Any of various chiefly nocturnal tropical and subtropical lizards of the family Gekkonidae, characteristically having toe pads covered with numerous tiny bristles that adhere to vertical surfaces.


A green iguana (Iguana iguana), a large tropical American lizard often kept as a pet.


Any lizard of the family Gekkonidae. They are small, carnivorous, mostly nocturnal animals with large eyes and adhesive toes enabling them to climb on vertical and upside-down surfaces.


(zoology) Any member of the genus Iguana.


(rare) To move in the manner of a gecko; to attach to a vertical or upside-down surface.


Colloquially, in America and the Pacific, any of several members of the lizard family Iguanidae.


Any lizard of the family Geckonidæ. The geckoes are small, carnivorous, mostly nocturnal animals with large eyes and vertical, elliptical pupils. Their toes are generally expanded, and furnished with adhesive disks, by which they can run over walls and ceilings. They are numerous in warm countries, and a few species are found in Europe and the United States. See Wall gecko, Fanfoot.


Colloquially, in Africa, any large member of the genus Varanus, especially the aquatic Nile monitor (see leguan).


Any of various small chiefly tropical and usually nocturnal insectivorous terrestrial lizards typically with immovable eyelids; completely harmless


Any member of the genus Varanus (see goanna).


Any species of the genus Iguana, a genus of large American lizards of the family Iguanidæ. They are arboreal in their habits, usually green in color, and feed chiefly upon fruits.


Large herbivorous tropical American arboreal lizards with a spiny crest along the back; used as human food in Central America and South America


Where do iguanas live?

Iguanas primarily live in the rainforests of Central and South America.

What is an iguana?

An iguana is a large, herbivorous lizard native to Central and South America, known for its spiny back and green color.

What is a gecko?

A gecko is a small to medium-sized lizard, famous for its ability to climb smooth surfaces and vocalize.

What do iguanas eat?

Iguanas are mostly herbivorous, feeding on leaves, flowers, and fruits.

Where can you find geckos?

Geckos are found worldwide, in various habitats from rainforests to deserts.

What is unique about an iguana's tail?

An iguana's tail can detach to escape predators, a process called autotomy.

What makes gecko's feet special?

Gecko feet have specialized toe pads that allow them to stick to and climb vertical surfaces.

How long do iguanas live?

Iguanas can live for 10-20 years, sometimes longer in captivity.

Are geckos good pets?

Many gecko species are popular pets, known for their easy care and interesting behaviors.

What is the diet of a gecko?

Geckos are generally insectivorous, but some species are omnivorous.

How do iguanas reproduce?

Iguanas lay eggs, with females burying them in the ground for incubation.

What is the lifespan of a gecko?

Geckos typically live between 5-10 years, depending on the species.

Can iguanas change color?

Some iguana species can change color slightly, depending on mood or environment.

Can iguanas be kept as pets?

Yes, iguanas can be kept as pets, but they require large enclosures and specific care.

Are iguanas endangered?

Some iguana species are endangered due to habitat loss and hunting.

Are geckos endangered?

While many gecko species are abundant, some are threatened by habitat destruction.

How do iguanas communicate?

Iguanas communicate through body language, such as head bobs and dewlap displays.

How do geckos communicate?

Geckos communicate through vocalizations and sometimes through body movements.

How do geckos reproduce?

Geckos also lay eggs, with some species exhibiting unique reproductive strategies.

Do geckos change color?

Many geckos can change their color to camouflage or signal to other geckos.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons