From time to time, people panic when they see their chameleon with swollen skin hanging and bulging, resembling a Hippo. It is understandable that this causes concern, especially since it often appears overnight.

Firstly, I want to inform you that this condition is called edema. If it occurs in and/or along the chin, it is referred to as gular edema.

Secondly, I must confess that we do not yet know exactly how and why it happens.

Thirdly, I want to assure you that it usually goes away as quickly as it came, even without any intervention.

Fourthly, we know that it typically it occurs in two situations:

1. Gular edema in gravid females, which can last for a few days after egg deposition. It is usually harmless and disappears soon without any issues.

2. Gular edema in 3-month-old juveniles. Unfortunately, this is one of the typical symptoms of sudden 3-month baby mortality, which is obviously jalethal.

Fifthly, gular edema happens sporadically and not regularly. It has been reported more frequently in captivity and less frequently in wild females. There are no known cases of baby gular edema from the wild.

Sixthly, we suspect that the following factors contribute to the development of the first type (in gravid females):

- Vitamin A hypovitaminosis

- Vitamin A hypervitaminosis

- Vitamin D hypovitaminosis

- Vitamin D hypervitaminosis

- MBD (metabolic bone disease)

- RI (respiratory infection)

- Tap water drinking (with a high content of ions)

- Overheating

- Overhydrating

- Obesity

- Gravidity

- Genetics

We have no clue why it happens in 3-month-old babies, but the suspicious circumstances are:

- General hypervitaminosis

- Absence of bee pollen in food

- RI

- Overheating

- Overhydrating

So, if it happens to your chameleon in captivity, what should you do?

1. Stay calm and avoid panicking.

2. Consider the possible reasons or contributing factors, especially overheating, overfeeding, and RI.

3. Remember that general edema and gular edema are normal appearances in gravid females and can be a side effect of the hormonal processes following egg deposition - there is no need to panic.

4. No action is required; just let it resolve on its own. It will typically go away within a few hours or days.

5. After the recovery period (approximately 2 weeks), return to normal standard care, including a rich diet and appropriate supplementation, especially with calcium to compensate for the losses during egg production. Be cautious with hydration - slight overhydration is okay, but moderate to heavy overhydration can lead to gular edema or harm the chameleon.

6. In the case of 3-month-old babies, assess their husbandry but be prepared for the worst. If other symptoms of juvenile sudden death appear, such as light coloration, sleepiness, and weakness, there is little that can be done.

To prevent gular edema, ensure proper husbandry parameters, including correct temperature regulation, appropriate feeding and hydration, and adequate supplementation.

Special Thanks to Lori Jo for sharing her pictures and story:

Can someone PLEASE help.. my 2 years old girl was down laying eggs for 2 days (i checked on her several times) and she deposited her eggs and came up this morning. Shes looked normal all day..she had a few crickets and i gave her 2 hornworms both sprinkled with calcium No D. And tonight i just uncovered her, as i left her to her privacy and this is how she is.. what is going on with her neck?? Shes normally around 87 grams..shes not overweight. Its hard to see..she has like a lump in her neck.. like something is stuck in there...but i dont want to touch her or mess with her for many reasons 😬 Thank you for your help

Author: Petr Nečas