Steppe Runner Care

Steppe Runner (Eremias arguta), also known as the Arguta 

Popularity: They are quite well received in the United States where they are still fairly new to the exotic pet world. They were first introduced here in early 2012. 

Size: Adults grow to about six inches in the wild, probably about the same in captivity. 

Lifespan: Up to about 10 years in the wild, yet to be seen in captivity. 

Origin: Russia and surrounding areas 

Native habitat: grasslands, deserts 

Appearance: About half the lizards length is sturdy-looking tail. Their bodies are slender, yet sturdy looking. When lying flat on their stomachs, their bellies can appear to be puffy. They have thick, strong necks that support a triangular-shaped head that is blunted at the nose. There are small, protective crowns over each eye, and they have forked tongues.

Each of the four legs has five long digits which are well designed for grasping branches. Their bellies are light beige, and their backs are a darker shade of beige with dark brown to blackish markings. The markings are circular blotches that have a lighter-colored interior. The blotches run across the body and extend lengthwise from the base of the head to the base of the tail. The legs and lower parts of the tail, as well as other parts of the body, also show the markings, but they are not nearly as pronounced. The skin on the underside between the start of the jaw and the start of the neck is somewhat flabby. The entire body is covered with scales. 

Diet: Like most reptiles, steppe runners eat a variety of live insects. 

Activities: They are active in the daytime and will spend time basking on rocks and exploring. 

Defense Mechanisms: Can release its tail to escape a predator. 

Reproduction: Babies are born live at about two inches in length. 


Housing and Furnishing

A terrarium of 20 gallons is best. The tank should be twice as long as it is wide and should be covered with a securable mesh screen. There should be two or three hides, and one should be a small reptile cave or something similar. Other hides can be bushes and limbs, and there should be some securely stacked flat rocks for basking. Live plants are good furnishings, and filtered clean play sand is a good substrate. 


This reptile does not need a lot of humidity, but it will need extra when it is shedding. You can achieve this by lightly misting daily, and twice daily during the shedding process. 

Heat and Lighting

Normal day and night cycles are important. Use lamps if necessary to provide this. UV lamps are important for vitamins and basking. The housing should have three levels of heat graduating from one end to the next. One end should be 100 degrees for basking under a lamp, and the other should be around 78 degrees. Both ends can be cooler at night but they should not drop below 70 degrees. Use heating lights and pads accordingly. 

Food and Water

It is best to feed them fresh, purchased insects or breed the insects. It is not recommended to feed them those caught around the house as they may be diseased or carry pesticides. Crickets, mealworms and occasional waxworms are good choices. Dust the crickets with a supplement before feeding them to the steppe runner, and occasionally dust them with calcium. Water should be kept in a steady, shallow bowl and changed daily.

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