Difference Between Snakes and Lizards

Main Difference

The main difference between snakes and lizards is on the basis of morphological characteristics such as the presence of legs, movement on the ground and eyes. Snakes have no legs while lizards have legs. Lizards move with the help of four limbs and snakes move by undulating its body and ventral scales. In lizards eyes have eyelids and in snakes no eyelids.

Snakes vs. Lizards

Snakes and lizards both are reptilian and also have the same order, but they have many differences. The main difference between snakes and lizards is the presence of legs. Snakes have no legs while lizards have legs. Lizards move with the help of four limbs and snakes move by undulating its body and ventral scales. In snakes, the good grip provided by ventral scales on the surface. External ears as a hearing organ are present in lizards while ears are absent in snakes. While skull bones in snakes help in hearing by receiving vibrations from the external source. Lizard’s eyes wink while snakes eyes not. A pair of eyelids is present in lizards that cover the eyes while in snakes eyes are covered by transparent scales. Eyes of lizards can close while cannot close in snakes. Lizard sheds its tail when stressed or when there is a threat. Detaching the tail believed to be an escape mechanism against threat and tail can regenerate again. While snakes shed their skin once a year. The flexibility of jaws is more in snakes as compared to lizards and prey bigger than their size they can eat. For respiration two lungs are present in lizards while one lung is present in snakes. In snakes, the right lung is working while the left side lung is absent or in the contracted form which has no function is called vestigial lungs.

Comparison Chart

SnakesLizards
Legs
AbsentFour legs present
External Ears
AbsentPresent
Lungs
The single right lung is present and functional, but sometimes left lung is present in shrunken form and non-functionalTwo lungs are present each in both sides
Movement
By undulating its body and ventral scalesWith the help of four legs
Flexibility of Jaws
Greater flexibility of jawsLess flexibility of jaws
Shedding
Skin shedding once in a yearTail shedding when it’s in threat or stress
Eyelids
Eyelids absent but Transparent scales present on eyesEyelids present
Hearing Organ
Absent but the role of the hearing organ is taken by skull bone by absorbing vibrations from the groundExternal ears

What are Lizards?

Lizards belong to class reptilian and order Squamata. Four legs are present in lizards. Lizards move with the help of four limbs. Some lizards can change their body color. External ears as a hearing organ are present in lizards. Lizard’s eyes wink, and a pair of eyelids is present in lizards that cover the eyes. Eyes of lizards can close with the help of eyelids. Lizard sheds its tail when stressed or when there is a threat. Detaching the tail believed to be an escape mechanism against threat and tail can regenerate again. The flexibility of jaws in lizards is moderate and prey smaller than their size that can fit their mouth they can eat. For respiration two lungs are present in lizards. Most of lizards species are more active in the day time, but some in the night. Lizards are ectotherms and regulate their body temperature by basking in sunlight to become fully active.

Example

The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is the largest lizard in the world, existing on the islands of Komodo, Rinca and other minor landmasses, and Flores-island in Indonesia.

What are Snakes?

Snakes belong to class reptilian and order Squamata. Snakes have no legs and can move by undulating its body and ventral scales. In snakes, the good grip provided by ventral scales on the surface. External ears are absent in snakes, and skull bones in snakes help in hearing by receiving vibrations from the external source. Snake eyes do not wink. Snake eyes covered by transparent scales and cannot close. Snakes shed their skin, and this happens once a year. The flexibility of jaws is more in snake and prey larger than their size they can eat. For the respiration, one lung is present in snakes. In snakes, the right lung is working while the left side lung is absent or in a shrunken form which has no function is called vestigial lungs.

Example

The black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) is a snake and live in the prairies and the Rocky Mountains of southern and eastern Africa. They are Africa’s elongated venomous snake, reaching up to 14 feet in length.

Key Differences

  1. Legs present in lizards and absent in snakes.
  2. For movement, lizards use four limbs, and snakes use skin by undulating it and also ventral scales that give grip to the surface.
  3. External ears as a hearing organ are present in lizards while ears are absent in snakes. While skull bones in snakes help in hearing by receiving vibrations from the external source.
  4. Lizard’s eyes wink while snakes eyes not.
  5. A pair of eyelids is present in lizards that cover the eyes while in snakes eyes are covered by transparent scales.
  6. Eyes of lizards can close while cannot close in snakes.
  7. Lizard sheds its tail when stressed or when there is a threat. Detaching the tail believed to be an escape mechanism against threat and tail can regenerate again. Snake shed skin once in a year.
  8. For respiration two lungs are present in lizards while one lung is present in snakes
  9. The flexibility of jaws is more in snakes as compared to lizards
  10. In snakes, the right lung is working while the left side lung is absent or in the shrunken form which has no function is called vestigial lungs.

Conclusion

According to the above discussion, it concluded that Snakes and Lizards are reptiles, and belong to the same order Squamata. But the major difference is that snakes have no legs, move through body undulating and ventral scales, no external ears, only one right lung for respiration, jaws are more flexible and can eat large prey than their size and shed their whole body skin once a year. While lizards have four legs for locomotion, external ears are present, eyes have eyelids and can wink, the tail can detach and also can be regenerated, two lungs are present for respiration, ectothermic and bask sunlight to maintain body temperature.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White

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