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Facts about Chameleon’s Skin

Chameleon Skin

Chameleons are the only creatures on the planet that change their skin color.  They have special pigments contained in their skin and change color according to their mood and environment.  They often change colors to blend in with their background.

What layers are in a chameleon’s skin?

A chameleon’s skin is composed of four layers.  They are:

  • The outer layer:  This layer is commonly known as the epidermis.  Its function is to protect the skin.
  • The chromatophore layer:  This layer contains yellow and red pigments.
  • The melanophore layer:  This layer contains dark pigment, which creates brown, black, and blue.
  • The nether layer:  This layer reflects white.

What makes a chameleon change their skin color?

Chameleons are able to change their skin color because of the pigment inside their chromatophores.  The pigment contains a layer of cells called iridophores.  Melanin is the darkest and most visible pigment.

What is it called when a chameleon changes color?

Chameleons change colors with the assistance of unique pigment inside their skin.  The process of changing color is called a physiological color change.

Skin Chameleon 1

Why do chameleons change their skin color?

Chameleons change their color for multiple reasons, including:

  • Hiding from predators:  Chameleons become afraid when there are predators around, so they change colors to camouflage themselves.
  • To express their mood:  Chameleons also change colors to express their mood.
  • To attract a mate:  Chameleons turn light colors when they are attempting to attract a mate.
  • Finally, to blend in with their background:  Chameleons are experts at camouflaging themselves and changing color to blend in with their background.

How does chameleon skin work?

Chameleon skin contains specialized cells called chromatophores, which contain different colors of pigment.  When a chameleon wishes to show their mood by changing color, the chromatophores receive a message from their brain to change color.  Once the message has been received, pigments move around and change the color of the chameleon.

How long does it take for a chameleon to change colors?

Chameleons have special features in their skin that allow them to change colors.  They can change their skin color within 20 seconds.

Which kind of chameleon changes its skin color the fastest?

Male chameleons change their skin color faster than female chameleons.

How many different colors can chameleons change into?

Most chameleons change their skin color between brown and green;  only some chameleons can change their skin to reflect all colors.  Some species have different colorations and patterns in pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown, light blue, yellow, turquoise, and purple.

Why do chameleons shed their skin?

Chameleon’s skin will peel or shed to regenerate new skin cells.  When chameleons shed their skin, you can see white flakes on the chameleon’s body.  When they are young, they shed their skin once every three to four weeks.  When they are mature adults, chameleons shed their skin about once every two months.

Skin peeling or shedding is a positive sign of chameleon growth.

Shedding Chameleon

What does it mean when a chameleon has black dots?

When chameleons are unable to complete the shedding process, their skin develops fungal and bacterial infections.  This is visible in the form of black dots on a chameleon’s skin.  Fungal skin infections on a chameleon’s skin are called dermatomycoses.  This is a common condition in chameleons.

To overcome these black spots, provide regular misting and humidity.  Black dots can also be an indicator of aggression in chameleons.

Do chameleons get itchy skin?

Yes!  Chameleons get itchy skin when their housing is too dirty.  They will bite their skin where it feels itchy.  Sometimes, they also rub their itchy skin and cause damage.  To get rid of your chameleon’s itchy skin, make sure to clean their housing.

Can UVB light burn a chameleon’s skin?

Yes!  Too much UVB light can burn your pet chameleon’s skin.  This can lead to skin tissue damage from high heat exposure.  Tissue damage leads to a reduction of the inflammatory response in your chameleon’s skin.  If the skin’s inflammatory response is reduced, an infection can result from exposure to bacteria and viruses.

Why do chameleons get bumps?

Some people panic at the sight of bumps on their chameleon’s skin, but these bumps are not dangerous or painful to your chameleon.  A chameleon’s ribs are flexible and thin.  Because of this, they sometimes break, and a callus develops during the healing process.  This callus is the bump you notice under the skin.  They will disappear over time.

Final Thoughts

The way chameleons change their skin color is really an amazing process.  They have a special pigment that allows them to change colors. So if you keep your pet chameleon healthy and happy, you will be able to see them change into a variety of colors.