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What Chameleons Change Color

Do you find the color-changing ability of chameleons fascinating?

Have you ever noticed some chameleons change color more than others?

Different types of chameleons change colors in different ways, and it is important to know this before owning a chameleon.

What chameleons change color?

Most chameleons change color, though some only turn darker and lighter shades of brown and green, while other species like the panther chameleon turn more vibrant colors.

Read on to learn more about which types of chameleons change color, and what species change color the most.

what chameleons change color

How Do Chameleons Change Color?

Most chameleons can change their skin coloration.

This process is achieved through the manipulation of crystal-like cells beneath their skin.

These cells are called guanine crystals, and when the chameleon changes the space between these crystals, the wavelength of light reflected by their skin changes.

Depending on the wavelengths of light reflected, chameleons can achieve color changes to camouflage themselves, attract a mate, deter a predator, or even reflect their mood.

The colors of chameleons will depend largely on the environment they originate from.

Chameleons from desert environments will often display browns and yellows like the sand, while chameleons from more tropical areas will display more greens and blues to blend in with trees and rivers.

Which Types Change Color

There are hundreds of different types of chameleons, but we will include the most popular chameleons followed in the wild or kept as pets.

Different types of chameleons change color more or less, and it can often depend on the species or even the age or gender.

#1 Small Color Changes

Young Chameleons

Young chameleons often have a severely diminished or under a developed layer of guanine crystals, so young chameleons can not often change their color.

If you have a chameleon known to be able to change color, you will likely not see this incredible ability until the chameleon reaches maturity.

Female Chameleons

Female chameleons also do not always have developed layers of guanine crystals, so females in some types of chameleons do not change colors at all, while females in other species only change color a little bit.

Even in species like panther chameleons known for their bright colors, the female chameleons will often show duller shades than the male chameleons.

When considering chameleons, if you are interested in the intense color changing, female chameleons are not your best option.

#2 Medium Color Changes

Fischer’s Chameleons

Fischer’s chameleons are well-loved lizards often kept as pets.

These chameleons are known for their bright green coloring, and adult males can change their colors moderately to brighter and lighter shades of green, as well as a little bit of brown.

Jackson’s Chameleons

Jackson’s chameleons are common choices for pets and can have different levels of color-changing abilities.

While most change between bright and dark greens, these chameleons will also sometimes show yellow and even blue hues.

Namaqua Desert Chameleon

The Namaqua desert chameleon changes its dominant color depending on whether it is day or night.

During the day, this chameleon is different shades of grey, while at night it turns darker shades of grey and yellow.

Parson’s Chameleon

The Parson’s chameleon is the largest, though it only moderately changes color.

Depending on the subspecies, this chameleon will largely turn darker or lighter shades of turquoise, yellow, orange, and green.

Pygmy Chameleons

Pygmy chameleons are the smallest of all chameleons and usually change color to adapt to their surroundings.

These tiny creatures are green and brown but will show darker greens, browns, blacks, and oranges.

#3 Drastic Color Changes

High-Casqued Chameleons

High-casqued chameleons can achieve a wide range of different colors.

This chameleon can turn its entire body dark black, lighten to brownish green, and even display patterns on its skin, including hues of yellow and blue.

High-casqued chameleons are considered to be veritable masters of color manipulation and can display some impressive feats of coloration and pattern.

Veiled Chameleons

Veiled chameleons are incredibly popular choices for pets, and can change their colors in very impressive ways.

These chameleons are naturally green, and in addition to being able to darken or lighten this hue, they also can include shades of red, brown, blue, yellow.

They will change depending on a variety of factors.

These chameleons are great choices for pets if you want to see frequent color changes.

Meller’s Chameleons

Meller’s chameleons are the largest in Madagascar and are also able to change their colors quite easily.

While they are naturally a deep green, they are also often marked with yellow stripes and black spots and can manipulate these depending on their mood.

Sometimes when handled, these chameleons will even display white spots.

What Chameleon Changes Color the Most?

A panther chameleon is largely considered to be the chameleon that changes color the most.

For this reason, panther chameleons are highly sought after as pets and are widely studied by scientists and animal enthusiasts.

Many photos and videos of chameleon color changes are panther chameleons.

The colors and patterns on panther chameleons will often vary depending on the subspecies and area of origin.

Some panther chameleons are a vibrant blue, others are red and yellow, while others are green, tan, brown, and even pink.

Panther chameleons are especially impressive because they can display multiple vibrant colors at once.

If you are looking for a pet chameleon that will wow you with bright, varying colors, a panther chameleon is a right chameleon for you.


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Chameleon colour change, Suppl Movie S2

Supplementary Movie 2: Colour change is fully reversible


There are many species of chameleon, and while not all can change colors, most chameleons can perform this incredible feat.

Different types of chameleons can change colors to varying degrees, and it is important to know this information when selecting which chameleon you’d like to keep as a pet.

Panther chameleons change color the most and are the best choice if you want a chameleon that can display a wide variety of vibrant colors.

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