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Why do panther chameleons turn dark?

by Farrah on December 21, 2011

Common Reasons

There are many reasons why a chameleon will display darker colors. A common misconception is that dark colors always means stress. This is not true. So before you panic, check out these top three reason why chameleons turn dark.

1. Basking

If the chameleon is dark and is close to the heat bulb, it means that he/she  is trying to absorb the heat to warm up. This is called basking. It’s just like wearing a black T-Shirt on a sunny day. Your body will warm up fast. The chameleons are simply trying to warm up. You’ll observe this behavior in the early morning for the most part.

2. Stress

While less frequent than the above, stress also causes dark coloration. This is more apparent in the vertical banding of the chameleon. If the chameleon is dark and it’s body is flat with a kung-fu grip, it means that he or she is saying “back-off”. This is more characteristic of a defensive posture and indicates a level of stress. The best thing to do in this case is to give him/her some space.

3. Gravid

This applies to female panther chameleons only. If a panther female is dark after copulation, it means that she is gravid and is done breeding. In other words, she’s pregnant. You’ll often see a very dark background with orange spots when this happens.


There you go. Just because your chameleon is dark doesn’t mean he’s stressed out. There are many reasons for changing colors. You just need to learn to recognize what they mean. Hope this helps!

{ … read them below or add one }

Faye January 22, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Can i house a veiled chameleon in the ultimate cage?


Vincent February 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm

You sure can!


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