Steppe Lizard

By Snaketracks / February 10, 2020
Steppe Lizard
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Steppe Lizard Care Sheet

The Steppe Lizard makes for an excellent pet lizard for reptile lovers for both a new owner or an experienced one. For a small lizard species, which often tend to be skittish, they accept being held quite well.

Most small lizards are extremely shy and elusive. On the other hand, the steppe lizard will bravely eat from your hand. These friendly little lizards are not like most small lizards and will readily curl up in your palm for the warmth.

Quick Reference Section

  • Experience level: Beginner to Advanced
  • Family: Lacertidae
  • Scientific name: Eremias Arguta
  • Other Names: Steppe-runner, Racerunner
  • Average adult size: 6 inches
  • Lifespan: Up to 10 years in captivity
  • Clutch Size: Between 1 and 12 eggs
  • Egg Incubation Period: 50 to 60 days
  • Food: Insects like crickets or worms
  • Average Temperature: 80°H/75°L
  • Humidity: 25 to 30%
  • UVB lighting: optional
  • Average price range: $30 – $50
  • Conservation Status: “Least Concern”

Steppe Lizard Facts

Steppe-runner Lizard
Steppe Runner Lizard

The Steppe Lizard or Steppe-Runner (Scientific-Eremias Arguta) is a small friendly and tame lizard. It belongs to the Family Lacertidae and Genus Eremias.

This widespread species ranges from the dry eastern grassland regions of Romania, through southern Moldova, Ukraine, the Crimean Peninsula, Southwestern Russia, through much of Central Asia, northwestern China (Xinjiang) and southwestern Mongolia.

With elevation limits of between 0m to 3000m, these critters are quite widespread.

A full-grown Steppe Lizard grows to 6 inches long. Hatched baby Steppe Lizards exit the egg at just over 2 inches long and are very slim babies.

The Steppe Lizard is fairly new as a pet to the reptile community. Researchers haven’t quite figured out the lifespan of this lizard, though it is believed to live up to 10 years in captivity.

A Steppe Lizard’s coloration can vary from light shadings to darker, with some patterns having more contrast. Breeding has produced interesting patterns. Colors vary from some having very light, and others, dark patterns.

Steppe Lizards are terrestrial and prefer floor space better than climbing areas.

Steppe Lizards are new to the reptile community so there are many things to learn about these interesting, friendly, spry and active little creatures.

Enclosure

Housing requirements are a minimum 10 x 20-inch enclosure for one lizard but it’s always a good idea to provide as much room as possible. Carolina custom cages offers a good selection of high quality enclosures and in larger sizes. It’s best to keep only one male Steppe Lizard per enclosure when females are present.

For a pair, the recommended size is a at least a 20 gallon enclosure. These lizards are quite active so it isn’t recommended to go any smaller just for one. If you are planning for a communal group, add 5 gallons per lizard, after you’re at a 20 gallon long.

Keeping the enclosure clean is a relatively easy chore if you check it regularly. Clear out food debris and fecal matter regularly. Replace water dishes with a fresh supply daily.

Steppe Lizards are terrestrial and prefer floor space over climbing areas. Tiered rocks are their favorite hiding and basking areas.

Rocks, logs, and shelters for hiding and basking need to be carefully placed so they don’t cause injury. Make sure they are secure so they can’t fall onto your steppe runner.

Substrate

Steppe Lizards can actually thrive in sand, but 1-2 inches of aspen chips work well and still provides burrowing opportunities. Make sure they are small and easily movable for the lizards.

Aspen (shredded, compressed or shaved), recycled paper substrates and reptile sand can all be used as substrates for Steppe Lizards. Clean the substrate as necessary, and consider replacing the entire substrate every three to four months.

Among other appropriate housing accessories, include slate, wood or Zilla bark blend, and hide boxes or other shelters. Provide many hiding places and a place for them to get closer to the basking light so your Steppe Runner lizards will feel secure.

Temperature

Steppe Lizards need a hot side and a cool side of the enclosure.

The easiest way to do this is by having a heating pad on the hot side along with a basking bulb to provide a basking spot at one end of the enclosure, which will allow the lizard to cool down if it gets too warm by moving to the cooler end; and vice versa, if it gets too cold.

You could monitor temperatures with a thermometer at each end of the enclosure. The cooler end of a Steppe Runner enclosure should have a temperature of between 78-82 degrees Fahrenheit.

The warm end should feature a basking area of 95-100 degrees. Use an overhead basking light or heat emitter. These should be turned off at night.

The cooler end of the enclosure can sometimes drop to 70 degrees at night, and under-tank heating or infrared heating devices can be used to maintain 75-80 degrees on the warm end during the night when the heating elements for the day are turned off.

Make your temperature monitoring tasks easier by installing a heating pad for your tank. Products like Aiicioo digital thermostat and reptile heating pad combo are available.

Humidity

Humidity needs to stay very low for these heat-loving Steppe Lizards, roughly 25-30%.

You can monitor it with a hydrometer like this one from Zoo Med.

Lighting

Steppe Lizards may require UVB light. Mercury vapor UVB bulbs like the ones from Tekizoo can be used to provide a concentrated basking area, they provide both heat and UVB.

They are pricey and do need to be changed every 6 months to a year to get maximum UVB output. Lack of UVB lighting puts these lizards at risk of Metabolic Bone Disease and their overall health is at risk.

UVB lighting should be provided eight to twelve hours a day. Glass filters out UVB so be sure the top of the enclosure is screened, and not glass. Check out Zilla screen covers which are available in different sizes.

Steppe-Runner Feeding

Steppe Lizards are insectivores and prey on mainly calcium/supplement dusted crickets. Use a product like Repashy calcium and vitamin supplement. Other meals could consist of mealworms with the occasional waxworms.

Don’t feed the lizards worms too often as they are too fatty and they will be more at risk for obesity. Steppe Lizards are fed daily or every other day.

A quality vitamin/calcium supplement with vitamin D3 is important. They only need supplement on prey items every other feeding and every meal for babies/juveniles.

Use a dish for feeding your lizard so they don’t accidentally ingest the substrate.  Avoid leaving numerous live insects in the enclosure, as they may bite, stress, or pester the lizards.

Lastly, make sure fresh clean water is always available and in a dish heavy enough to not be tipped over easily.

Temperament

Racerunner Lizard
Racerunner Lizard

Allow your Steppe Lizard to acclimate for a few days. Once settled, the lizard can be handled or hand fed.

When handling, carefully coax them onto your hand and avoid making them feel trapped, so do not grab or wrap them with your fingers, ‘cause they won’t enjoy that. But they would be content to just rest on your palm.

They will happily sit on your palm and enjoy the warmth, but they are quick and won’t hesitate to dart onto the floor or under furniture. Handling at first should be limited to ten minutes or less, and as often as once or twice a day.

Be sure to hold your lizard close to the ground, in case you accidentally drop the lizard. And be sure to fully support its entire body, which helps the lizard to feel secure. Steppe Lizards are diurnal and active for most of the day, these friendly little lizards are quite calm and tame.

Lifespan

The lifespan for a pet Steppe Lizard is believed to be up to ten years.

Common Health Concerns (Issues/Solutions)

Steppe Lizards fare better with UVB lighting. Otherwise, they could be at risk of MBD.

They are quite new to the community and more data are needed on health concerns.

Pricing and Availability

Steppe Lizards are not expensive lizards. You can find steppe-runners for sale for about 30$ to 50$.

Bred Steppe Lizards are available as well as imported lizards. Babies are available all year.

Conservation/Threats?

According to reports, the Steppe Lizard species is threatened by habitat loss and degradation to sand dunes by reforestation. Increased tourist, urban, agricultural and industrial development also play a part.

Other threats to its species are pesticide pollution, overgrazing, and afforestation of suitable sandy habitat. Despite its inclusion as a threatened species in several Red Data Books, there are few threats in its Central Asian range; and there are no major threats in China.

Conclusion

These diurnal, calm, friendly little lizards filled with personality make for awesome beginner’s pets. The Steppe Lizard is easily available all year round, and are fairly inexpensive pets.

Many would likely love to grab one of these personable little critters. They aren’t high-maintenance and are quite easy to handle so they would make for an ideal pet for someone new to the reptile community.

If you are considering owning one, please share your opinions. Or if you have one, let us know what you find!

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