Veterinary Care for Your Chameleon


by Kenneth L.

I have been asked to discuss edema in chams. Disclaimer, I don't have definite answers to give. I do have a few conclusives and a few thoughts.

First off, what is edema (oedema for those of you who drive on the wrong side of the road)?

Edema is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the cavities and intercellular spaces of the body.

What are typical causes of edema?

Hypoproteinemia (osmotic effect), lymphatic blockage, changes in vascular permeability, heart failure, renal disease, iatrogenic overhydration, G. I. disease, neoplasia, drug effects, inhaled toxins, sepsis, inflammation. That's about all aplicable to chams I can come up with off the top of my head. Not too many chams get pulmonary edema from chewing electrical plugs. Now lets discuss the causes I have diagnosed in the past.

Hypoproteinemia: Very common. Most often due to liver disease. There is a decrease of plasma proteins due to decline of production. Increased plasma protein loss, say through the intestine, must be considered. Liver infections (bacterial or viral), parasitic lesions, hepatotoxic drugs, and vascular compromise have been causes postitively identified.

Reproductive hormones have been implicated.

Lymphatic blockage: Microfilaria are common in WC chams (as per Steve)and do cause lymphatic blockage. I have seen lymphatic blockage in severe burn cases. Heart failure: Rare. Bacterial endocarditis comes to mind in other reptiles.

Renal disease: Probably the most common cause in my experience. Causes are many. Often drugs are used which are toxic to the kidneys. Dehydration is a big factor to the demise of the kidneys, especially when coupled with drug administration. Renal gout is very often found and will be discussed later.

Now I have to add fungal as well.

Inflammation, sepsis: Changes is vascular permeability often lead to edema.

Inhaled toxins: I have seen many birds suffer from second hand smoke and incense use. I'm sure chams can suffer as well. I have seen lungs/air sacs of chams owned by heavy smokers with black spots all over.

Hypovitaminosis A has been implicated in edema in reptiles.
Thats about all I think apply to a majority of the edema cases I've seen."

The information provided on this site is for your consideration only. You should contact your veterinarian for specific questions concerning your chameleons.