Chams and Their Colors...What do they mean?

I am fully aware that chams change their colors and different patterns appear given the situation and stress level. But what do the colors and patterns specifically mean? Are they sometimes happy or nervous and how can you really tell which to associate with? Hopefully this will answer some questions for others too.


Established Member
Wikipedia: [All chameleon species are able to change their skin color. Changing color is an expression of the physical and psychological condition of the lizard, not, as is commonly believed, to match their surroundings.[5] Thus, the old joke about a chameleon suffering a fatal injury upon setting foot on a plaid is based on a false premise. The colour also plays a part in communication.

Chameleons change their colour in response to light exposure and ambient temperature, as well as to express their mood. Emotions and attraction of a mate can induce the colour change.[6]

Different chameleon species are able to change different colours which can include pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown and yellow. [7][6] Chameleons are naturally coloured for their surroundings as a camouflage. However, recent research has indicated that Chameleons may use colour changes as a method of communication, including to make themselves more attractive to potential mates.[8]

Chameleons have specialized cells, collectively called chromatophores, that lie in layers under their transparent outer skin. The cells in the upper layer, called xanthophores and erythrophores, contain yellow and red pigments respectively. Below these is another layer of cells called iridophores or guanophores, and they contain the colourless crystalline substance guanine. These reflect, among others, the blue part of incident light. If the upper layer of chromatophores appears mainly yellow, the reflected light becomes green (blue plus yellow). A layer of dark melanin containing melanophores is situated even deeper under the reflective iridophores. The melanophores influence the 'lightness' of the reflected light. All these pigment cells can rapidly relocate their pigments, thereby influencing the colour of the chameleon.
c+p from wikipedia

Thank you Rocky for that informative peice. My cham is between 2 to 3 months old and has been showing off his colors and patterns lately in addition to bulking up when ever I wake him or come home after several hours of being away. I am sure he is stressed in some manner but quickly calms down when the cricks are offered to him. Thanks again



Avid Member
Different chams (both different species and different individuals) have different color suites. My Jacksons was a moderately light green when calm, a lighter, yellowish green when sleeping, and became much darker and blotchy when upset by something. My panther is yellow with red bars when sleeping (before he matured, he was a generally unmarked pink when sleeping), and his calm, baseline colors are generally lime green with burgandy bands and underside. In the sun, he will sometimes turn darker (shades of brown) to increase sun absorption for a while before returning to base colors. When upset/excited/displaying, he puts on his brightest colors, inflates top to bottom, and inflates the gular crest (=throat), often opening his mouth in a threat display. I use attitude and body shape as well as color to gauge his moods.

That is what I have noticed with my veiled. He frills his throat and blows his stomach up with a darker tint of green displaying. Then I have also noticed he would be basking and he will have his spots displayed and bright yellow showing until I approach the enclosure. Then he will go back to a bright green state with dark yellow stripes. It seems like he was relaxed and happy until I approached, then he went to a normal state, not knowing whether to be defensive / offensive. Thanks for the observation and info.


New Member
Most veiled get darker when they get stressed and lighter when happy. Although my seems to do the opposite but hes just a character of his own.


New Member
if you spend alot of time with your cham you can read them just like people. you can sense or tell when they are nervous or anxious or if something may seem to be bothering them. just keep observing and wondering and i'm sure you'll be able to tell too.
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