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Veiled Chameleon Colors: Mood Color Chart & Meanings (with Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove

Have you ever wished your pet could talk? Well, while they can’t hold conversations, chameleons are unique animals in that they can change their colors based on their mood.

Have you ever wondered what the different color patterns mean? In this article, we will break down various veiled chameleon color variations and identify what they represent in your pet and how they are feeling.

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About Veiled Chameleons

veiled chameleons
Image Credit: Veiled Chameleon, slezo, Flickr, Attribution CC 2.0

Veiled chameleons, or cone-headed chameleons, are a type of lizard originating on the Arabian Peninsula. The veiled chameleon gets its name from a casque protruding from its head, which vaguely resembles a shark fin. The purpose of this casque is to help the chameleon store fat and collect moisture. A long, sticky tongue helps the veiled chameleon capture its prey, which consists primarily of insects and worms. These animals also eat leafy green vegetables.

The veiled chameleon is a popular pet that occasionally escapes or is released into the wild by its human owners. In some areas, such as Hawaii, veiled chameleons are considered to be an invasive species. These lizards can live up to about 8 years in the wild, but they can likely live longer in captivity.

Why Do Veiled Chameleons Change Color?

Like all chameleons, the veiled chameleon can change color. The most common reason why a chameleon might change its color is in order to camouflage itself from predators. However, there are other reasons why your chameleon may change color. Your chameleon’s mood can have a big impact on its physical appearance. Later, we will discuss some of the different veiled chameleon color variations and some of the reasons behind the color changes.

How Do Veiled Chameleons Change Color?

Unlike most other animals that change color, chameleons actually have two layers of skin cells called iridophore cells. Chameleons can actually change the structure of the upper layer of skin cells, which, in turn, changes how they reflect light. When a chameleon is relaxed, the iridophore cells remain close together. When the chameleon becomes excited, however, the cells move farther apart, causing the cells to reflect longer wavelengths of light. This results in a different color being reflected.

Veiled Chameleon Mood Chart & Meanings

Now that you know a little bit more about veiled chameleons and how they change color, let’s discuss what all of the different color variations could mean!

  • Relaxation – When your veiled chameleon is feeling relaxed or is in its “normal” state, its colors are light blue or green. Young veiled chameleons tend to be very light green with few color patterns; as they age, they can begin to develop bright patterns on their skin.
  • Fear – A veiled chameleon that is scared or very stressed will begin to turn a dark color, such as black. Black coloration can also be a sign of illness, so if the dark colors persist, make sure to take your veiled chameleon to the vet.
  • Stimulation or Excitement – Excited chameleons, on the other hand, will tend to be lighter or brighter in color than normal. Veiled chameleons are likely to show signs of stimulation when hunting prey or when they interact with a potential mate. They will turn yellow or dark green when they are excited and on the hunt.
  • Aggression – Older veiled chameleons are likely to show more aggressive tendencies. If your chameleon does not want to be handled, it will warn you with its coloration. An aggressive chameleon will turn a bright pattern with yellow, brown, or dark green stripes or spots. This color pattern may also be accompanied by hissing, so pay attention to other warning signs that your veiled chameleon does not want to be handled. Of course, this aggressive coloration may not be directed towards you; a chameleon may even feel aggressive toward its own reflection every once in a while.
  • Mating – When an adult female veiled chameleon is willing to mate, she will turn a special color pattern of gold stripes with a blue or green background. If she is already pregnant, she might instead turn dark green with yellow and blue spots. She might also turn brown or white to indicate that she is not in the mood.
  • Depression – As you may have already noticed, brown coloration can mean lots of things. One potential reason why your chameleon is turning brown is that it is depressed. Usually, this is a result of illness or improper husbandry, so check that your pet’s habitat is clean and comfortable for him, then take him to the vet.
  • Sleep – When your veiled chameleon is sleeping, it will usually be brighter than usual. You can expect to see a bright green or yellow-green pattern.
  • Environmental Factors – Mood isn’t the only thing that can determine your chameleon’s color. Your chameleon’s color can also tell you something about the environment and how your pet feels physically. For example, a chameleon may turn dark brown when it is basking in order to absorb heat more easily. Since brown can also indicate depression and stress in your chameleon, you can try turning off the heat lamp to see if it turns back to its normal color. If not, try to investigate possible sources of stress in your pet.

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Final Thoughts

Your veiled chameleon uses a range of colors and patterns to express various moods. In some cases, your chameleon’s color can indicate that your chameleon is sick or depressed. Keep an eye on your pet for other signs of illness, and when in doubt, don’t hesitate to bring it to your veterinarian.


Featured Image Credit: clintonwpillay, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.