Eremias arguta - Steppe Runner

Eremias arguta
RO / Vadu, 26.05.2013 - These lizards are alert and quite fast, if necessary.

The big genus of Eremias comprises about 36 species, most of them in Central Asia. Besides of Eremias arguta another species occurs in Europe: Eremias velox, which can be found in the European part of Russia.

 

In our area, Eremias arguta inhabits open sandy areas with sparse vegetation at the Romanian Black Sea Coast. The Romanian population belongs to subspecies deserti.

The Steppe Runner is a remarkable species with a somehow "archaic" appearance: They have short tails, massive bodies and deep heads. The head and neck scalation of older males may consist of "tubercles" which make them look like small dragons. Besides of that, there seem to be no prominent differences between males and females.

 

When disturbed, these lizards escape by running over long distances until they are out of sight. So, you may not notice those well-camouflaged Lacertids before it's too late. However, when carefully approached, they can be easily observed.

 

Within its European distribution range, only two other small lizard species occur: Lacerta agilis and Podarcis tauricus. With these, Eremias arguta can hardly be confused. Female Lacerta agilis may look similar somehow but they have significantly thicker tails - compared to the rather spiny tales of Eremias arguta.

Distribution Eremias arguta
Distribution range of Eremias arguta within our area.

Eremias arguta
RO / Vadu, 26.05.2013: Old male with massive head.
Eremias arguta
RO / Vadu, 26.05.2013: Note the "tubercle"-like scales on head and neck.
Eremias arguta
RO / Vadu, 26.05.2013: Note the rather spiny tail.
Eremias arguta
RO / Vadu, 26.05.2013 - specimen with yellow lateral dots.
Eremias arguta
RO / Vadu, 26.05.2013: Pregnant female
Eremias arguta
RO / Vadu, 26.05.2013: Subadult specimen
Eremias arguta
RO / Vadu, 26.05.2013 - Although being shy, Eremias arguta is also nosy, as this one demonstrates.
Eremias arguta
Habitat of Eremias arguta at the Romanian Black Sea coast.