Iguana v Gecko Featured Image

If you want to get into the fascinating world of reptiles, you should start with easy to care for animals whilst you are learning. Although many reptiles may share similar traits, if you are new to keeping reptiles, it is important to know the difference between a gecko and iguana as they are both very different and have very different needs. Below, we will have a look at 2 of the most well-known reptile species that you may be considering as a pet and tell you whether we think they are beginner-friendly or not.

Difference Between a Gecko and Iguana

Geckos and iguanas are both reptiles that are popular pets. They share some similarities, but there are also some notable differences between them.


One of the most notable differences between Geckos and Iguanas is their size. Geckos are typically much smaller than iguanas, with most species reaching an adult size of only about 18cm long. In contrast, iguanas can grow to be much larger, with some species reaching up to 2m in length. While both types of lizards are interesting creatures, there is no denying that geckos and iguanas differ significantly in size and the disparity is quite striking.


Geckos and iguanas are both popular pet lizards, but they have very different dietary needs. Geckos are mostly insectivores, meaning that they are carnivorous, but their diet consists primarily of insects. In the wild, they will eat anything they can catch, including moths, beetles, and ants. Iguanas, on the other hand, are herbivores. In the wild, they primarily eat leaves and flowers. They will also occasionally eat fruits and berries. In captivity, iguanas should be given a diet that consists mainly of leafy greens, with a small amount of fruit or vegetables for variety. Geckos can be fed a diet of commercially available insectivore food pellets, or they can be offered live insects.

Sleep Cycle

Geckos and iguanas are both reptiles that are known for their ability to sleep for long periods of time. However, they have different sleeping habits. Geckos are nocturnal creatures that spend most of the day resting in hiding places. At night, they become active and hunt for food. In contrast, iguanas are diurnal creatures that are most active during the day. They spend the night sleeping in trees or burrows. Although geckos and iguanas have different sleep cycles that are dictated by their natural behaviors, they both enter a state of torpor during periods of inactivity. Torpor is a type of dormancy that helps reptiles to conserve energy.

Housing Requirements

When it comes to housing requirements, geckos and iguanas are quite different. Geckos are small lizards that can be easily accommodated in a modest-sized terrarium approx. 60x40x30cm. On the other hand, iguanas are large reptiles that need a lot of space to move around. A minimum enclosure size for a green iguana would be at least 12x6x6 feet. Iguanas also require access to UVB lighting and a basking spot, which can be provided by installing a special bulb in the terrarium. In terms of temperature, both geckos and iguanas need warm environments, but iguanas are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations. As a result, their enclosures must be carefully regulated using thermostats.

  • Geckos are usually found in dry, arid areas, such as deserts. They have adapted to this environment by developing thick skin that helps to protect them from the sun and sand.
  • Green Iguanas, on the other hand, come from rainforests. They have adapted to this environment by developing long claws that help them climb trees and escape predators.

As a result of these different adaptations, geckos and iguanas require different care when kept as pets. Geckos need a warm, dry environment, while iguanas need a cooler, more humid environment.

Recommended: How to Set Up a Terrarium for a Green Iguana


There are different species of each, but leopard geckos are usually found in dry, arid areas and prefer a rocky, sandy terrarium whereas green iguanas come from rainforests and prefer branches and vegetation. When setting up a terrarium for either type of reptile, it is important to keep their natural habitat in mind. A gecko that is used to living in a desert will not do well in a humid, tropical environment, and an iguana that is used to living in the rainforest will not do well in a dry, arid one. By providing your pet with the right type of habitat, you can ensure their health and well-being. The type of habitat you provide should be based on your pet’s specific needs.

Just for You: How to Clean a Leopard Gecko Tank


Both geckos and iguanas are reptiles that originate from warm climates, but their social behaviors could not be more different.

Sociability with Animals

Geckos are generally solitary creatures, only really coming together to mate. They live in small territories and can often be found hiding in caves or among rocks. Iguanas are highly social creatures that live in large groups – usually of the same sex. They are often seen basking in the sun together and enjoy spending time in tree branches or on rocky ledges. Male iguanas will also defend their territory from other male iguanas, but they are typically not aggressive towards other species. If you choose to keep more than one iguana, it is best to have a male and female pair or even a male with 2 females so that the male can mate with both. Again, with geckos, it is best to have one of either sex although they do prefer to be alone.

Important: Do not have 2 male iguanas together – they are extremely territorial, and they are likely to fight!

Sociability with Humans

Both animals can be tamed with careful regular handling, but iguanas tend to be more independent and may not enjoy being handled as much as geckos. Geckos are also typically smaller than iguanas and have a better temperament, which may make them more suitable for families with small children. When it comes to temperament, iguanas can be more aggressive than geckos, so they may not be the best choice for first-time reptile owners.


Geckos typically live between 10 and 15 years, while iguanas can live up to 20 years. The difference in lifespan could be due to several factors, including diet and habitat. However, there’s been no comprehensive study done on this subject yet so we may never know for sure why they behave differently from one another in regards to their lifespan potentials.

Suitability for Beginners

Geckos make great starter lizards because they’re generally very hardy and adapt well to a variety of environments. They’re also small enough that they don’t require a lot of space, and they can be easily tamed with a little bit of patience. Iguanas, on the other hand, are much more demanding animals. They require specific habitats with plenty of trees and branches for climbing, and they need to be fed a specialized diet that can be difficult to replicate at home. Iguanas also have a reputation for being temperamental, so they may not be the best choice for someone who’s new to lizard keeping.


Geckos and iguanas are two of the most popular pet lizards. They have a lot of similarities, but there are also some key differences between these two types of reptiles. If you’re thinking about getting a lizard for a pet, it’s important to know what to expect in terms of size, lifespan, housing requirements, terrain, sleep cycle, and diet. These differences between the 2 reptiles are significant and this affects their care requirements. Iguanas need more space and require more specialized care than geckos – if you are a beginner, you are best off with a gecko. As a result, potential pet owners should carefully research both species before deciding which one is right for them. We hope this article has helped you make an informed decision about whether or not a gecko or iguana is the right pet for you.

Difference Between a Gecko and an Iguana Infographic

Reptile Wrestler Tips!

“Do not keep 2 male iguanas together – they WILL fight!”

“If you are a beginner, make sure you do thorough research, with such long lifespans, these reptiles are a huge commitment!”

“With Iguanas, you should handle them regularly from a young age to keep them tame and prevent aggression when handling!”

“Research is of the utmost importance, differences between geckos and iguanas are quite obvious but differences between different species of each may be a little more subtle!”


What is bigger, a gecko or an iguana?

There is no definitive answer to this question since there is a great deal of variability among individual geckos and iguanas in terms of size. However, in general, iguanas tend to be larger than geckos. Captive green iguanas, for example, typically grow to be around 2m long, whereas most geckos only reach lengths of around 18cm. So, if we’re talking about average size, then an iguana is definitely bigger than a gecko.

Do geckos and iguanas eat the Same Food?

Geckos and Iguanas have different dietary needs. Geckos are insectivores, meaning that their diet consists primarily of insects. In contrast, iguanas are herbivores, meaning that their diet consists mostly of plants. For example, geckos enjoy eating crickets or mealworms, while an iguana would prefer leafy greens or vegetables.

When do geckos and iguanas sleep?

Iguanas are mostly diurnal animals, meaning they are active during the day. The main reason for this is that they need the sun to warm their bodies. They usually spend the early morning and late afternoon sunbathing. Geckos, on the other hand, are mostly nocturnal animals, which means they are active at night. This is because the food they prey upon is mostly available at night.

What lives longer, an iguana or a gecko?

The lifespan of an iguana is typically around 15 years but they can live to 20, while the lifespan of a gecko is generally 5-10 years but they have been known to reach 15. However, there are several factors that can affect the lifespan of either animal, such as whether they are in captivity or in the wild, what kind of diet they have, and what health problems they may have. Generally speaking, though, iguanas tend to live longer than geckos.

About Me

Hi, I’m Stuart and I’ve had reptiles for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I studied for a master’s in Herpetology. Over the years I have worked at several zoos before opening my very own reptile sanctuary. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their little beasties.

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