Chameleon Medical: Edema



Edema describes the condition where the chameleon’s body retains fluid and this usually manifests itself as a sort of collar around the neck area. It becomes more prominent when the chameleon is head down. While it is not life threatening in itself, it is a warning that there is an imbalance in the chameleon system.

We really don’t know what causes the edema, but it appears to be linked to our supplementations as reducing the supplementation results in the edema slowly going away. More specifically, it appears to be linked to the fat soluble vitamins, A and D3. Although edema can be found across many chameleon species the montane species (such as Jackson’s, Trioceros quadricornis, etc…) are most susceptible.


Edema begins as a puffy look, usually around the neck area. It really becomes noticeable when your chameleon walks down head first and suddenly you notice this huge fluid filled collar around his neck as seen in the images here. Diagnosis is simply looking at the animal and identifying the puffy fluid collar.

A panther chameleon with Edema
panther chameleon edema


If your animal is otherwise healthy, treatment for edema can be done without vet supervision. It is removing synthetic vitamins from the diet until the symptoms go away. Look at the ingredients if it has Vitamin A or Vitamin D3 then discontinue the vitamin supplementation and stick with dusting with plain calcium. Of course, ensure you have sufficient UVB for natural vitamin D3 conversion.

Results may take months. Understand that this has probably been building up for a long time before you noticed it. It will take a while to clear up the system.