Date: 12/11/18
Share this article:
Chameleons and their camouflage
CHANGING COLOUR

So why do chameleons change colour? And how does it work?

It's amazing to think there are such creatures that live on planet Earth. Chameleon's change their colour when they feel threatened or when they need to blend in to their surroundings to avoid predators. This being said chameleons can produce some beautifully vibrant colours; who would want to eat such a pretty thing?!

Well it turns out chameleons have loads of predators, like the obvious snakes and larger birds. But did you know even some rain forest mammals like monkeys, love chameleons as a colourful snack.

The chameleon's uncanny ability to change colour has long mystified everyone! But now new studies find chameleons can rapidly change colour by adjusting a layer of special cells nestled within their skin.

Unlike other animals that change colour, like a squid or an octopus, chameleons don't modify their hues by accumulating or dispersing pigments within their skin cells, the researchers found.

Instead, the lizards rely on structural changes that affect how light reflects off their skin!

Chameleons can change the structural arrangement of the upper cell layer by relaxing or exciting the skin, which leads to a change in colour. For instance, a male chameleon might be in a relaxed state when it's hanging out on a branch, and in an excited state when it sees a rival male.

See also - What makes leopard geckos the friendliest pets 

THE SCIENCE BEHIND CHAMELEONS CHANGING COLOUR

"When the skin is in the relaxed state, the nanocrystals in the iridophore cells are very close to each other — hence, the cells specifically reflect short wavelengths, such as blue," said study senior author Michel Milinkovitch, a professor of genetics and evolution at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.


 

"On the other hand, when the skin becomes excited, the distance between neighbouring nanocrystals increases, and each iridophore cell (which contains these nanocrystals) selectively reflects longer wavelengths, such as yellow, orange or red" Milinkovitch said.

So now you know. These vibrant lizards aren't so mysterious after all! If you own a chameleon, we'd love to see your pictures; you can send them in to info@petcover.uk.com to be featured on our social media #yourpetfriday.

Did you know we also cover chameleon insurance under our new exotics range!
 

Get a quote

British Pet Insurance Services can offer comprehensive insurance cover for your chameleon. If you are interested in getting a quote, please click here

Share this article:

Need Help?

If you have any queries relating to a quote, policy or our services please contact us by

 

01444 708840 Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm

info@petcover.uk.com

  4 Bridge Road Business Park, Bridge Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 1TX

Exotic Pet Insurance

 

Get A Quote

Related Articles

 

Bearded dragon vivarium set up

24/06/20

Do you need help building the perfect vivarium set up for your bearded dragon? We break down all the info you need to know.

Read More

Can my reptile get fat?

01/06/20

Yes! Overfeeding and not enough exercise can make your reptile pile on the pounds. Here’s our tips for keeping your reptile fit and healthy!

Read More

Tortoise shell problems

31/05/20

Terrapin, turtle and tortoise shells vary hugely in terms of shapes, sizes and colours. In this article we outline the common shell problems that can occur.

Read More

Heatstroke in small mammals

17/05/20

Heatstroke is one of the biggest pet killers in the summer, however, it can be avoided! We have some simple, yet effective, steps to keep your small mammals cool in the heat.

Read More