How does a chameleon change colour?« Back to Questions List

Most chameleon species evolved a basic camouflage coloring and pattern which blends with the lands  and trees they live in. Variations in the light level, surrounding temperature or the emotions make a chameleon change the colour. They alter colour like we blush. An angry chameleon darkens with rage.


The chameleon has several cell layers beneath its transparent skin. These layers are the source of their color change. Some of the layers contain pigments, while others just reflect light to create new colors. Several factors contribute to the color change. A popular misconception is that they change color to match their environment. This isn't true. Light, temperature, and emotional state commonly bring about a  change in color. The colour will most often change between green, brown and gray, which coincidently often matches the background colors of their habitat.

chameleon 1                chameleon2

Some of the non-chameleon relatives like lizard species to have  the ability to change colour. Colour change in lizards is mainly associated with temperature. Chameleons change colour faster than lizards and the capacity is universal  among all chameleon species.

Another interesting fact about chameleons is that they can move their eyes in two different directions at the same time!


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