Debunked: Chameleon changes color to match bath towel

deirdre

Moderator
Staff member
QN0motI.jpg
©A91PLB Imgur


This little guy is making the rounds lately.
Although most posts i've seen just say "chameleon on bathtowel", some have taken it to the extreme.

Others just imply the chameleon has changed his colors to match the towel:
He's trying to blend in. - Pinterest





I cant really tell if he is a Red Bar or Blue Bar, but basically he didnt change colors, that's just how he looks.

Ambilobe Blue Bar Panther (Noki Baby) Chameleon
NokiBoss.jpg
© Chameleon Boss


Ambilobe Red Bar
chameleon_xerxis1.jpg
screameleons.com
 
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Hevach

Senior Member
Chameleons don't change color for camouflage, they do it for communication. Whoever took the original picture probably chose the towel to match the chameleon more than anything.

Here's a good example with another panther chameleon. Notice that when he's on the plant, he doesn't match the plant, and when the guy picks him up, he doesn't change to match the hand, but to more highly contrasting colors. Those are his angry colors (you can tell because he also puffs up to look bigger). Chameleons aren't really a "take out and hold" kind of pet, even if you tame them to stop biting they get agitated really easily from handling.

 

NoParty

Senior Member
Chameleons don't change color for camouflage, they do it for communication. Whoever took the original picture probably chose the towel to match the chameleon more than anything.
I mostly agree, though I was under the impression that the camo angle was a minor, secondary reason.



Quick Chameleon communication color guide:

Brown = "I'm moderately stressed"
Green = "I'm pretty relaxed...chillin' to the successful Paris Climate Accord"
Bright stripes = "Please stop putting me on your towels, to see what I will do"
Red (with unnatural orange tint): "STAY CLEAR!! I'm voting for Trump!!"
 

mazoola

Member
Another common use of color in chameleons is to signal receptivity (or lack thereof) to mating.

Among panther chameleons (the star of this post), the female is typically more drably colored than the male. However, when she is ready to be bred, her color changes to a uniform salmon pink:


The calyptratus, or veiled, chameleon is even more accommodating with its color changes. There, the female takes on a bright coloration (typically turquoise and yellow-green against charcoal) to indicate she's ready to be bred -- and then, after mating successfully, dims to a 50-shades-of-grey theme to prevent subsequent attempts.

In the wild, chameleons are typically solitary, highly territorial creatures. Given the risks involved in crossing from one's own tree to that of a prospective mate, it's not a journey to be taken lightly -- hence the advantage in knowing in advance whether the trip is going to be worth it.

A quick Google search of chameleon images reveals the wide range of [non-towel-related] coloration among panther and calyptratus chameleons.
 
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