Newts and lizards are creatures that may be roughly the same size and display common body features. However, while these two creatures may look the same at first glance, the two classifications of animals are vastly different. There are many distinguishing features to determine if an animal is a newt or a lizard.
A newt is classified as an amphibian. Amphibians are animals which live both in and out of water. Newts can be fully aquatic to completely terrestrial, or living on land, only returning to the water to lay their eggs. Lizards are reptiles. Lizards also live in similar habitats as newts, however the eggs of lizards are laid on land opposed to directly in the water.
Newts and salamanders have a slick, smooth textured skin or a skin that appears warty, with many bumps. The appearance of the skin may look velvety on a newt. A lizard has a skin covered in scales. Scales are present on all species of reptile. These scales vary in size and shape depending on the species of lizard.
Amphibians must lay their eggs in water because their eggs have no shell. The exterior portion of an amphibian egg is a jellylike substance which protects the egg while the fetus develops. Lizards lay their eggs on the ground and produce shells to protect the egg from the elements. Lizard eggs tend to have a leathery shell common among all reptiles.
The number of toes on the foot of the animal is also another feature that separates newts from lizards. Newts have four toes on their front legs, while lizards have five toes. Depending on the species, the toes may be very small and difficult to see and count unless you have the animal in your hands for close inspection.
While newts and lizards look the same, it is very difficult to catch a lizard with just your hands. Lizards are very quick, under normal weather conditions. Both lizards and newts are cold-blooded and will move slower in cold weather conditions. Newts typically are not as fast as lizards. If you were able to catch the animal by hand, it is most likely a newt.