In order to help your pet enjoy a nice and comfortable life, you need to make sure that you choose the right chameleon aquarium setup. There are certain aspects you should focus on if you want your little friend to stay happy, healthy, and strong. We love our pets so much and we want only the best for them, and that is why a great habitat is mandatory for their well-being.
Chameleons are fascinating little creatures and one of the most interesting aspects about them is that they are able to change the color of their skin in order to match their surroundings. Many animals have unique ways to protect themselves against predators and chameleons manage to do that by morphing into their environment.
What is even more fascinating is that they don’t have just one camouflage pattern, and even if greens and browns are their predominant colors, they have the ability to adapt to various environments.
Chameleons are not all the same, and that is why it would be interesting to see if all species have this unique ability. If we have made you curious, you should have a look at this article as you will find many exciting things about them.
How chameleons change their color
Most of us know that chameleons are able to change their color, but how do they manage to do this? Although not many people knew how these interesting little creatures can blend in so well with the environment, it has been recently discovered that chameleons are actually adjusting their microscopic cells (called iridophores) to reflect light in different ways.
To understand the process even better, you should know that these cells contain some tiny crystals (nanocrystals) that have different shapes and groupings. Thanks to these nanocrystals, the light will be reflected in various ways and it will make the skin of the chameleons have different colors or patterns.
You can imagine a crystal hanging in a window and when it reflects the sunlight it will shine a rainbow onto the surface. The same thing happens with chameleons, it is exactly the same process; because the skin of the chameleons is filled with these nanocrystals they are able to change their appearance anytime they need by relaxing or tensing up their bodies.
When they do that, the crystals will shift and the light is reflected so that it will offer chameleons a perfect camouflage that will make them invisible to predators. Furthermore, the skin cells also move when they shrink or swell, and they can move closer and farther apart.
That is why, when the skin is relaxed, the color blue will be reflected thanks to the shorter wavelengths of light and the iridophore cells are close to one another. Another important thing that we should know is that chameleons’ skin contains yellow pigments. This means that the colors blue and yellow will mix and they will create the color – you guessed! – green.
When they rest, they relax their skin and the result will be the blue color but combined with their yellow pigment will result in green! That is why most of the time they look green and this is the color that we all think of every time we try to picture a chameleon. With longer wavelengths, things are a bit different as the skin cells are farther apart reflecting colors red and yellow.
Also, female chameleons don’t have as many iridophore cells as male chameleons, which means that they are not as good as their male counterparts when it comes to changing their appearance.
The reasons why chameleons change their color
It is believed that the main reason why chameleons change their appearance is to blend into their environment. Why is it so important for them not to be the center of attraction and to be as hidden as possible? Well, the answer is easy to guess as we can all imagine how difficult it is to survive in the wild among so many dangerous and hungry creatures.
That is why chameleons found their own way to protect themselves and escape predators: changing their appearance that will help them stay away from curious and harmful enemies. This doesn’t mean that it is the only reason why chameleons change colors! They do like to hide, but sometimes they like to react and to scare those potential intruders away.
This means that there are situations when they will alter their appearance in order to scare away rival chameleons. Although they don’t like to be seen all the time, sometimes they change their colors just to impress their mates. Among other benefits they get from changing their appearance, we can remember that it helps them stay cool or conserve heat.
Moreover, we can tell just by looking at a chameleon if he/she is under stress or if he/she feels happy and relaxed. This means that if you notice that your chameleon turns dark colors such as black, you can tell that something is wrong. A good example is a visit to the vet; most of the times chameleons will feel stressed when seeing a vet and they will look darker.
On the other hand, when they feel safe and they are in the comfort of their home surrounded by people that love them, they will feel calm and it is easy for you to notice that as they will turn bright green and blue. Even if some chameleons can reflect more colors than others, you should know that all of them have some iridophore cells in their skin.
Some chameleons are more colorful than others
As we have already mentioned, there are certain species of chameleons that are very impressive when it comes to changing their appearance. Some good examples are panther and veiled chameleons, and some of the other tropical species that spend their lives in the trees. These amazing creatures are able to reflect colors such as blue, red, yellow, or green.
On the other hand, there are certain species of chameleons that are only able to change from dark to light colors. A good example is represented by the leaf-litter dwelling chameleons which are not very good at changing their appearance. The truth of the matter is that they don’t really need to reflect dramatic colors given their vulnerability on the ground.
That is why they will just want to stay safe and not to attract too much attention. What is interesting about these chameleons is that they are able to reflect complex leaf-like patterns on their skin that will definitely keep them away from enemies. The tropical-tree dwelling species are known to use color changing mostly for communication.
Due to the dense forest canopies, they need to stand out, and that is why they are able to use a wider palette of colors. Thanks to this ability, they can find one another easier as they will manage to spot each other faster.
Although there are many theories as to why some chameleons are more gifted than others when it comes to their ability to change colors, it is safe to say that the environment they live in makes a huge difference.