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Difference between Salamander and Lizard

Salamander and lizard both are vertebrates and tetrapods with a tail, so they may look alike, but are different animals. Salamanders are amphibians and lizards are reptiles. Let us study these animals in detail to better understand how they differ from each other!


Salamanders are amphibians that belong to the order Caudata under the class Amphibia in the animal kingdom. They first appeared on Earth around 160 million years ago. Today, there are more than 600 species of salamanders mostly found in North and South America and in the temperate regions of Northern Asia, Africa and Europe. They are found close to water bodies and have moist and scaly skin and their size may vary from 6 inches to 6 feet.

Salamanders are cold-blooded animals, so they cannot generate body heat on their own and depend on the external environment to maintain their body temperature. They have four legs often with 4 fingers and 5 toes. Their life cycle comprises different stages which are an egg, larva, and adult. The larvae breathe through gills, whereas the adult salamander breathes through lungs. Salamanders are carnivorous amphibians as they eat other small animals as food such as snails, slugs, insects, worms, crustaceans, and fish.


Lizards are reptiles that belong to order Caudata under the class Reptilia in the animal kingdom. There are more than 6000 species of lizards found all over the world. Gecko is the smallest lizard and Komodo monitor is the largest lizard found in the world. Lizards are also tetrapods with clawed feet and a long tail and have outside ear openings.

The characteristic features of a lizard are the presence of movable eyelids and their ability to camouflage by changing their skin colour in order to blend in with the surroundings. Lizards are mostly carnivorous as they eat insects whereas few lizards may feed on plants. They can be found in different types of climates including hot and dry.

Based on above information, some of the key differences between salamander and lizard are as follows:

Salamander Lizard
Salamanders are tailed amphibians under the order Caudata of the animal kingdom. Lizards are reptiles under the order Caudata of the animal kingdom.
They belong to class Amphibia. They belong to class Reptilia.
They require moist living conditions, so often found near water sources. They can be found in different climatic conditions, such as moist, hot, dry etc.
Their skin is moist and lacks scales. They have rough and scaly skin.
They are smaller in size than lizards. They are larger in size than salamanders.
Legs are short. Legs are longer.
They tend to creep. They tend to scuttle.
They have four fingers and five toes. They have five fingers and five toes.
They lack claws as well as ear openings. They have claws as well as ear openings.
They have ten pairs of cranial nerves. They have twelve pairs of cranial nerves.
They live in both water and shady lands. They live on land.
They excrete ammonia as the nitrogenous waste product. They excrete uric acid as the nitrogenous waste product.
Their eggs lack shells and have a transparent gelatinous covering. Their eggs have shells and are hard or leathery.
They born in water or mushy lands and the young ones have gills to breathe. The adults breathe through lungs. They are born on the land and breathe through lungs.
They undergo metamorphosis, e.g. from tadpole to adult. They do not undergo metamorphosis, upon hatching the young ones look like their parents.
They use secretions of the glands in the skin to protect themselves from the predators. They protect themselves from enemies by biting, using sharp spine and by shedding tail.
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