Are Lizards Reptiles? Discover the Most Unique Lizard in the World

Written by Emilio Brown
Updated: August 25, 2022
Image Credit Danny Ye/Shutterstock.com
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Lizards are amazing animals that are found around the globe. Inhabiting deserts, beaches, forests, and other habitats, lizards are able to live in a plethora of places. Some can grow to be extremely large, while others are smaller than your fingernail. 

What exactly are lizards, and how do you classify these animals? Lizards are one of the most diverse animals in the world, and each species varies from the next. Some live underground, in trees, or are terrestrial. 

Lizards like the Draco lizard are small and able to glide through the air, while the large marine iguana can swim through the ocean like a fish. There are over 6,000 lizard species in the world, all with amazing features to appreciate. 

Lizards are reptiles like snakes, turtles, and crocodiles, but are much different from these animals. Let’s learn about lizards, and how they compare with other reptiles.  

What Is A Lizard?

Galapagos land iguana
Lizards may look like dinosaurs, but dinosaurs are more closely related to birds.

BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock.com

Lizards are reptiles and belong to the reptilian order of Squamata. This order consists of lizards, snakes, and worm lizards, and has more than 10,900 different species. Squamata is the largest of all reptile groups. Its members have scaly skin, small limbs, and vary greatly in appearance. 

Lacertilia is the suborder in Squamata that is made up of the different lizard species. When compared with other reptiles, lizards vary drastically. 5 different infraorders of lizards exist and are made up of families to help classify each lizard. New species are always being discovered, and the orders may be subject to change. The five infraorders of lizards are Diploglossa, Gekkota, Iguania, Platynota, and Scincomorha. 

 Diploglossa

  • Anguidae- Glass Lizards
  • Anniellidae– American legless lizards
  • Xenosauridae– Knob-scaled lizards

Gekkota

  • Dibamidae– Blind lizards 
  • Gekkonidae– Geckos
  • Pygopodidae– Legless lizards 

Iguania

  • Agamidae– Agamas
  • Chamaeleonidae– Chameleons 
  • Corytophanidae– Casquehead lizards 
  • Crotaphytidae– Collared and leopard lizards 
  • Hoplocercidae– Wood lizards
  • Iguanidae Iguanas 
  • Leiosauridae
  • Opluridae– Madagascan iguanas 
  • Phrynosomatidae– Earless and horned lizards
  • Polychrotidae Anoles
  • Tropiduridae– Neotropical ground lizards

Platynota 

  • Helodermatidae– Gila Monsters 
  • Lanthanotidae– Earless Monitor 
  • VaranidaeMonitor Lizards 

Scincomorpha 

  • Cordylidae– Spinytail lizards
  • Gerrhosaruidae– Plated Lizards
  • Gymnophthalmidae– Spectacled lizards
  • Lacertidae– Wall lizards 
  • Scincidae Skinks
  • Teiidae– Tegus
  • Xantusiidae– Night lizards 

When looking at the families of lizards you can get an idea of the different types of species that can be found. Lizards are extremely diverse, but they still share many similar traits with other reptiles. 

How Lizards are Similar To Other Reptiles 

Longest Tail: Eastern Glass Lizard
Although the glass lizard has no legs, it is a lizard – not a snake! Unlike snakes, glass lizards have eyelids and ears.

Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock.com

Lizards are extremely unique animals, but since they are reptiles they share similar traits with other animals like snakes, crocodiles, and turtles. Reptiles are vertebrates and are covered in scales. They are cold-blooded and are unable to tolerate extremely cold weather. 

Reptiles and lizards will hibernate during the winter since they are not able to regulate their body temperature when it begins to get cold. Species that live in tropical areas like iguanas do not need to hibernate as there is no cold season. 

Most reptiles lay eggs, but some are able to give live birth. Lizards and other reptiles will always fertilize their eggs internally to reproduce. With time some species of lizards have evolved to take on different traits and become more unique. 

What Makes Lizards Different  From Other Reptiles

Two Caiman lizards on a tree trunk. The body of the <a class=caiman lizard is very similar to that of a crocodile.” class=”wp-image-67117″/>
Two Caiman lizards on a tree trunk. The body of the caiman lizard is very similar to that of a crocodile.

Lizards are a diverse group of animals and can be much different when compared with other reptiles.

Lizards mostly run on four legs and are able to regrow certain limbs like tails when they are cut off. Snakes have no legs and lack the mobile ability that a lizard has. Some lizard species look similar to snakes and have no legs, but are classified as lizards. 

Alligators and crocodiles are not closely related to the lizard but look like giant versions of them. Snakes and lizards are close relatives, but lizards are more diverse. Lizards can be large, spikey, colorful, and even soar through the air. 

Species like the chameleon can instantly change their color from blue to red and even pink, which is a trait lacking in other reptiles. 

The Most Unique Lizards  

Lizard families
It is rare for a lizard species to care for its young after they are born

Huy Thoai/Shutterstock.com

Lizards are one of the most unique reptiles out there, and many species exist that are almost out of this world. Species showcase varying looks and traits that are uncommon for other reptiles to have. 

Amazing lizards species:

  • Thorny Dragon– Desert lizard covered in sharp thorns
  • Draco Lizards Small lizard species of Philippines that glides from tree to tree
  • Frilled necked lizard Australian dinosaur-like lizard that runs on two legs and has a frilled neck
  • Satanic Leaf Gecko– Small gecko that camouflages into trees by looking identical to a leaf
  • Komodo Dragons Largest lizard in the world capable of reaching 10 feet long and weighing over 200 lbs

These species are just a small fraction of all the lizard species in the world, and show how different each lizard can be from one another. When compared with other reptiles lizards can vary extremely, but they can also look different from other lizard species. Lizards are the most abundant of reptiles and also the most diverse. Check out a few of these pages highlighting the most unique lizards and reptiles!

Difference Between Reptile And Amphibian 

barred fire salamander on top of grassy area
Salamanders look much like lizards but have more in common with frogs.

Milan Zygmunt/Shutterstock.com

Amphibians and reptiles both play an important part in keeping a healthy ecosystem and can be found throughout the globe. Most of the time they can be easily told apart, but some species of amphibians look similar to a lizard. Salamanders have a similar appearance to lizards but are classified as amphibians. Knowing the differences can make it easier to identify certain animals

Unlike reptiles, amphibians have smooth moist skin. Mucus covers their skin to prevent them from drying. Amphibians like toads are able to secrete toxins from their body, and all species absorb water through their skin. Frogs, salamanders, newts, and caecilians are all types of amphibians. 

When compared, reptiles and amphibians have very present differences. Some species like the salamander may look similar to a lizard but do not have the traits of other reptiles. Lizards are always fun to learn about since there is such a wide variety of species to discover in the world!

A Northern caiman lizard eating golden apple snails.
A Northern caiman lizard eating golden apple snails.
Danny Ye/Shutterstock.com
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About the Author

Spiders, snakes, and lizards are my favorite types of animals, and I enjoy keeping some species as pets. I love learning about the various wonders nature has to offer and have been a writer for 5 years. In my spare time, you can find me getting out into nature.

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