Crocodile vs. Lizard — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 23, 2023
Crocodiles are large aquatic reptiles with powerful jaws, while lizards are smaller, diverse reptiles that can live in various habitats, including deserts and trees.
Difference Between Crocodile and Lizard
Table of Contents
Crocodiles and lizards, though both members of the reptile family, exhibit stark contrasts in appearance and behavior. Crocodiles are large, semi-aquatic creatures known for their V-shaped snouts and robust build. Their strength and size make them apex predators in their habitats. Lizards, on the other hand, are generally smaller and showcase a myriad of forms, colors, and sizes, adjusting to a variety of terrains, from deserts to rainforests.
With regards to habitat, crocodiles predominantly dwell in freshwater habitats like rivers, lakes, and wetlands. Their partially submerged position, with only their eyes and nostrils above the water, allows them to stealthily approach prey. Lizards, contrastingly, are found in a wider range of environments. From the hot sands where the desert lizard basks, to the treetops where geckos cling, lizards have adapted to diverse ecosystems.
Behaviorally, crocodiles, due to their size and power, have fewer predators and often sit atop the food chain in their ecosystems. Their diet primarily consists of fish, birds, and mammals. Lizards have a broader diet range, consuming everything from insects to vegetation, and due to their smaller stature, often play the role of both predator and prey.
Reproductively, crocodiles lay eggs in nests built from vegetation or in sandy banks. The temperature of the nest determines the gender of the offspring. Lizards also lay eggs, but their methods and care vary widely. Some species provide no care, while others guard their eggs or even give birth to live young.
Evolutionarily speaking, while both crocodiles and lizards belong to the Reptilia class, they belong to different orders. Crocodiles are part of the Crocodylia order, a group that has remained relatively unchanged for millions of years. Lizards fall under the Squamata order, which also includes snakes, showcasing a vast evolutionary diversity.
Size & Build
Large and robust.
Generally smaller and varied in form.
Freshwater habitats like rivers and lakes.
Various, from deserts to forests.
Fish, birds, and mammals.
Insects, vegetation, and varied depending on species.
Eggs in vegetation nests or sandy banks.
Eggs in varied locations or live births.
Compare with Definitions
A large aquatic reptile known for its V-shaped snout and powerful build.
The crocodile stealthily approached its prey in the water.
An animal with a diet that can range from insects to vegetation, based on its species.
The chameleon, a type of lizard, snagged a fly with its long tongue.
A reptile whose gender is determined by the temperature of its nest during incubation.
The crocodile eggs in the warmer nest produced mostly females.
A small to medium-sized reptile, often with four legs and a tail.
The lizard basked in the sun on a rock.
A creature equipped with powerful jaws and sharp teeth, known for its ambush hunting strategy.
The crocodile snapped its jaws shut, capturing the fish.
A cold-blooded reptile that can inhabit a variety of terrains, from deserts to rainforests.
The desert lizard has adapted to thrive in high temperatures.
A member of the Crocodylia order, with a lineage dating back millions of years.
Scientists study crocodile fossils to understand prehistoric ecosystems.
Lizards are a widespread group of squamate reptiles, with over 6,000 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica, as well as most oceanic island chains. The group is paraphyletic as it excludes the snakes and Amphisbaenia; some lizards are more closely related to these two excluded groups than they are to other lizards.
Crocodiles (family Crocodylidae) or true crocodiles are large semiaquatic reptiles that live throughout the tropics in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. The term crocodile is sometimes used even more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia, which includes the alligators and caimans (family Alligatoridae), the gharial and false gharial (family Gavialidae), and all other living and fossil Crocodylomorpha.
Any of numerous squamate reptiles often classified in the suborder Lacertilia, characteristically having a scaly elongated body with a tapering tail, four legs, movable eyelids, and external ear openings.
Any of various large aquatic reptiles of the family Crocodylidae that are native to tropical and subtropical regions and have thick, armorlike skin and long tapering jaws.
Leather made from the skin of one of these reptiles.
A crocodilian reptile, such as an alligator, caiman, or gharial.
Any reptile of the order Squamata that is not a snake or an amphisbaenian, usually having four legs, external ear openings, movable eyelids and a long slender body and tail.
Leather made from crocodile skin.
Lizard skin, the skin of these reptiles.
Chiefly British A line of people, especially pupils or choir members, standing two abreast.
(colloquial) An unctuous person.
Any of the predatory amphibious reptiles of the family Crocodylidae; (loosely) a crocodilian, any species of the order Crocodilia, which also includes the alligators, caimans and gavials.
(colloquial) A coward.
A long line or procession of people (especially children) walking together.
(rock paper scissors) A hand forming a "D" shape with the tips of the thumb and index finger touching (a handshape resembling a lizard), that beats paper and Spock and loses to rock and scissors in rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock.
(logic) A fallacious dilemma, mythically supposed to have been first used by a crocodile.
(in compounds) A person who idly spends time in a specified place, especially a promiscuous female.
Lounge lizard; lot lizard; beach lizard; truck stop lizard
(intransitive) To speak one's native language at an Esperanto-language gathering, rather than Esperanto.
Any one of the numerous species of reptiles belonging to the order Lacertilia; sometimes, also applied to reptiles of other orders, as the Hatteria.
A large reptile of the genus Crocodilus, of several species. They grow to the length of sixteen or eighteen feet, and inhabit the large rivers of Africa, Asia, and America. The eggs, laid in the sand, are hatched by the sun's heat. The best known species is that of the Nile (Crocodilus vulgaris, or Crocodilus Niloticus). The Florida crocodile (Crocodilus Americanus) is much less common than the alligator and has longer jaws. The name is also sometimes applied to the species of other related genera, as the gavial and the alligator.
A piece of rope with thimble or block spliced into one or both of the ends.
A fallacious dilemma, mythically supposed to have been first used by a crocodile.
A piece of timber with a forked end, used in dragging a heavy stone, a log, or the like, from a field.
Large voracious aquatic reptile having a long snout with massive jaws and sharp teeth and a body covered with bony plates; of sluggish tropical waters
Relatively long-bodied reptile with usually two pairs of legs and a tapering tail
An apex predator found in freshwater habitats.
The riverbank was marked with crocodile tracks.
A man who idles about in the lounges of hotels and bars in search of women who would support him
A member of the Squamata order, which also includes snakes.
She could distinguish a lizard from a snake by its limbs.
A creature known for its ability to regenerate its tail when threatened or attacked.
After the cat's playful attack, the lizard left behind a wriggling tail.
Do both crocodiles and lizards lay eggs?
Yes, most crocodiles and lizards lay eggs, though some lizards give birth to live young.
Are crocodiles a type of lizard?
No, while both are reptiles, crocodiles and lizards belong to different evolutionary orders.
Which is larger, a crocodile or a lizard?
Crocodiles are generally much larger than lizards.
Can lizards live in water like crocodiles?
While some lizards are semi-aquatic, they don't dwell in water as extensively as crocodiles.
Can crocodiles climb like some lizards?
No, crocodiles are not adapted for climbing like many lizards.
Why do some lizards lose their tails?
It's a defense mechanism; a predator might be distracted by the moving tail, allowing the lizard to escape.
Are all lizards harmless to humans?
Most lizards are harmless, but a few, like the Komodo dragon, can pose a threat.
How long can crocodiles live?
Some crocodile species can live for several decades, with some reaching over 70 years.
How do crocodiles and lizards regulate their body temperature?
Both being ectothermic, they regulate temperature through external means like basking in the sun.
Are alligators and crocodiles the same?
No, while similar, they belong to different families and have distinct features.
Do lizards have teeth?
Yes, most lizards have teeth, but the type and function vary by species.
Are there any vegetarian crocodiles?
Crocodiles are primarily carnivores, with no known exclusively vegetarian species.
Are geckos considered lizards?
Yes, geckos are a type of lizard.
Why do crocodiles have a V-shaped snout?
The V-shaped snout allows efficient biting and gripping, especially useful for hunting.
Can lizards hear?
Yes, lizards have internal ears and can detect vibrations and sounds.
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Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.