I am sincerely ***** ***** there was a delay in someone responding to your question. (Experts are independent contractors and as such are online based on their own schedules.) However, I am available now and can assist you if you still need veterinary advice.
Hello and thanks for posting your question on JustAnswer.com. My name is***** and I have been a veterinarian in the US for over 21 years, specializing in aquatics, reptiles, amphibians, avian and other exotic species. You may already be aware, but on this platform veterinarians can provide insight and advice, but as this is not considered a legal client-patient relationship, we are unable to prescribe medications, provide medical records or sign documents for your specific pet. For that you would need to make an in person visit with a local veterinarian. I am happy to chat with you via text but if you are interested in a phone call instead that is an option you can choose for an additional charge. In the meantime, I am putting together some questions and/or suggestions to help with your pet’s concern.
I am sorry to hear that your panther chameleon Sage may be under the weather.
Where are you seeing the edema? With chameleons, edema usually refers to gular edema or fluid accumulation under the throat which can often be caused by a vitamin deficiency but the definition of edema is just swelling of tissues from accumulated fluid.
If you can upload a photo or video that might be helpful. You can do so using the upload attachment (paperclip) icon below the text field. Please note that files have to be 5 Mb or smaller to upload properly.
With any sick chameleon, it is always a good idea to start by checking that their environment and husbandry are proper for their species. Taking a physical measurement of the temperature gradient within the enclosure with a reliable thermometer and measuring humidity with a hygrometer are a good idea. Making sure the UVB bulb is appropriate for the size of the space and has been changed regularly. Even if they are still producing visible light, UVB bulbs have a limited lifespan and need to be changed every 6-12 months, depending upon bulb type. Making sure diet is varied and the insects have been gut loaded with a nutritious gut-loading diet as well as dusted regularly with calcium and multivitamin powder. Therefore, I am attaching a chameleon care (husbandry) reference sheet that I put together. Please review it at your convenience and let me know if you have any questions.
For example, if the environmental temperatures are too low or too high, since chameleons are cold-blooded, this will negatively affect their metabolism, appetite, digestion and immune function. So start by checking the temperature gradient in the enclosure and, if it's outside their ideal range, adjust your basking light distance from the enclosure (closer for warmer, farther away for cooler) or change the wattage of the bulb (higher for warmer temps, lower for cooler temps) so you are achieving the proper environmental temperatures.
In the meantime, I will give you some information about what may be causing these signs, a care sheet with recommendations about environment and diet as some common medical conditions are unintentionally caused by improper husbandry (such as improper temperatures, humidity, UVB lighting or calcium and vitamin supplementation) and some suggestions for home care and support of your ill chameleon while you are awaiting a visit to the veterinarian.
Female chameleons can start producing eggs as young as 4-6 months old, but typically they won’t start until after 1 year old or sometimes older. You may suspect she is gravid (carrying eggs) because she looks like she is gaining weight in her belly even though you have not increased the amount you are feeding her. It’s a good idea to take periodic weight measurements of your chameleon for routine health monitoring and this can also help you spot a potential pregnancy. Similar to chickens, female chameleons can lay eggs with or without mating with a male, however without mating, the eggs they produce will not be fertile, they won’t develop and hatch into baby chameleons. They can produce and lay eggs every three to six months.
When she is getting ready to lay her eggs, she may spend more time searching and scratching surfaces in the enclosure looking for a spot to lay, she may spend more time on the bottom of the enclosure and you may see her digging. When she is getting close to laying her appetite may decrease or she may even stop eating altogether but she should still drink, so continuing to supply a dripping water source or scheduled misting is very important to prevent dehydration.
If you suspect your chameleon is gravid, you should provide a lay box for her. Inside the enclosure this can be a 12x12” container, even a flower pot, filled with 8-10 inches of moistened (washed) play sand or a mix of sand and organic soil. The substrate should be moistened and packed enough to hold a tunnel that is dug into it to the bottom of the lay bin, for this is what she will do to lay her eggs. The laying process can take as little as an hour or two or up to a couple of days as she looks for the best spot to lay her eggs. The number of eggs depends upon the species of chameleon and the female but it can range from 1 to many dozens (panther chameleons range from 10-40 eggs per clutch).
When she is showing signs of laying, such as restless searching and digging in the enclosure, It is important to give her privacy while she lays her eggs, if she is disturbed, she may not feel comfortable laying and retention of eggs can potentially lead to egg binding. Once she’s done, you can heavily mist her to rinse her of the sand or dirt from laying and to get a good drink and feed her with calcium dusted insects. You can also increase the feeds and calcium supplementation for the next week (dust every day, instead of half the insect meals) and then return to her regular feeding and supplementation schedule.
Egg-binding, or dystocia, occurs when a female chameleon is unable to lay her eggs normally. This can be caused by a number of reasons such as sub-optimal husbandry (improper temperature, humidity, nutrition and calcium supplementation, lighting, inappropriate nesting material or nesting site) or disease (abnormality in GI or reproductive tract physically obstructing passage of eggs such as adhesions or constipation, infection, or oversized or malformed eggs.)
Chameleons which are egg-bound may at first make multiple attempts to lay eggs but may stop as they begin to feel sick. This may progress to depressed or absent appetite, low energy, and lethargy. Are you seeing any of the those signs or is does she just look full in the abdomen? If she's still bright and alert, moving and eating, then it is not likely that she is egg bound, just gravid.
Egg-binding is potentially life-threatening and if you suspect your chameleon is egg-bound I strongly recommend you make an appointment for her to be evaluated by a local reptile veterinarian. The veterinarian will perform an examination on your chameleon and may perform tests such as x-rays or ultrasound to visualize the egg size, number and location and bloodwork to check for calcium levels and signs of secondary infection or inflammation. Treatment may involve fluids, calcium supplementation, hormones to stimulate egg laying and potentially even surgery to remove the eggs and/or the reproductive tract.
To find a local veterinarian with reptile experience, here is a useful website you can use to search for a local reptile veterinarian:
(please note this site may not work on older browsers like Safari)
These veterinarians are active members of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians, which means they have interest and experience in treating reptile patients.
I should be notified if/when you respond with additional information or a photo so we can connect about your panther chameleon Sage but in the meantime, I hope this information is helpful and I wish you the best. Thanks again for posting your question to JustAnswer.com. Sincerely, ***** *****
2224 satisfied customers