Lizard vs. Snake

What's the Difference?

Lizards and snakes are both reptiles, but they have some distinct differences. Lizards have legs and can move in a variety of ways, including running, climbing, and swimming. They also have eyelids and external ears, which snakes lack. Snakes, on the other hand, have a long, cylindrical body and no legs. They move by slithering and can be found in a wide range of habitats, from deserts to forests. While both lizards and snakes are carnivorous, snakes have a more specialized diet, often feeding on small mammals, birds, or other reptiles. Overall, lizards and snakes are fascinating creatures with unique characteristics that set them apart from each other.


Photo by Selin Şahin on Unsplash
LimbsUsually have four legsNo legs, but some have vestigial limbs
Body ShapeGenerally have a compact body shapeLong and cylindrical body shape
External EarsPresentAbsent
EyelidsMoveable eyelidsNo eyelids, but have a transparent scale called a spectacle
Scaly SkinHave overlapping scalesHave overlapping scales
FeedingMostly carnivorousMostly carnivorous
ReproductionMostly oviparous (lay eggs)Can be oviparous or viviparous (give live birth)
Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

Further Detail


Lizards and snakes are both fascinating creatures that belong to the reptile family. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct differences in their attributes. In this article, we will explore the various characteristics of lizards and snakes, including their physical features, habitats, behavior, and reproduction.

Physical Features

Lizards and snakes have distinct physical features that set them apart. Lizards typically have four legs, scaly skin, and external ears. They also possess movable eyelids and can blink. On the other hand, snakes lack legs and external ears. Their bodies are elongated and covered in scales, which aid in their movement. Snakes have a unique feature called the Jacobson's organ, located in the roof of their mouths, which allows them to detect scents in their environment.


Both lizards and snakes can be found in various habitats around the world. Lizards are more diverse in terms of their habitat preferences. Some species of lizards are arboreal, meaning they live in trees, while others are terrestrial, dwelling on the ground. Additionally, certain lizards are semi-aquatic, spending time in water. Snakes, on the other hand, are predominantly terrestrial, although some species are adapted to aquatic environments. They can be found in a wide range of habitats, including deserts, forests, grasslands, and even underwater in rivers and lakes.


When it comes to behavior, lizards and snakes exhibit different patterns. Lizards are diurnal creatures, meaning they are active during the day. They bask in the sun to regulate their body temperature and often engage in territorial displays to establish dominance. Lizards are also known for their ability to detach their tails as a defense mechanism, which can distract predators. Snakes, on the other hand, are mostly nocturnal, preferring to hunt and move around during the night. They rely on their keen sense of smell and heat-sensing pits to locate prey. Snakes are also known for their unique method of locomotion, using their muscular bodies to slither and crawl.


Reproduction in lizards and snakes also differs in certain aspects. Lizards generally lay eggs, although some species give birth to live young. They engage in courtship rituals, with males often displaying vibrant colors or performing elaborate dances to attract females. After mating, female lizards lay their eggs in nests or burrows, where they are left to develop and hatch. Snakes, on the other hand, exhibit a variety of reproductive strategies. Some snakes lay eggs, while others give birth to live young. Certain snake species even practice a form of internal fertilization, where males transfer sperm directly to the female's reproductive organs. The method of reproduction in snakes is often influenced by their habitat and environmental conditions.


In conclusion, lizards and snakes share some similarities as reptiles, but they also have distinct attributes that set them apart. Lizards have four legs, movable eyelids, and external ears, while snakes lack legs and external ears. Lizards are more diverse in their habitat preferences, occupying trees, the ground, and water, while snakes are predominantly terrestrial. Lizards are diurnal and engage in territorial displays, while snakes are mostly nocturnal and rely on their sense of smell and heat-sensing pits. Reproduction also varies, with lizards laying eggs and engaging in courtship rituals, while snakes exhibit a range of reproductive strategies. Both lizards and snakes are remarkable creatures, each with their own unique adaptations and behaviors that have allowed them to thrive in diverse environments.

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