Chameleon Behavior: Dark Colors

Chameleon Takes on Dark Colors


Chameleon shows dark colors that are not part of its normal resting color palette.


Meaning: Chameleons change color for temperature regulation and to express emotion. Darker colors are used to absorb more light energy when cold and to express submission in a dominance battle.


  • Chameleon is cold and desires to soak up more sun energy
  • Chameleon is feeling beaten and is showing an accepted loss

Temperature Regulation

Chameleons are ectothermic (cold blooded) so they have developed ways of soaking up heat. One is darkening their skin so they can absorb as much of the sun’s energy as possible and the flattening of their body gives them more surface area to catch the energy. Dark colors absorb more heat so this is an effective application of the ability to change color.

chameleon basking
Chameleon with dark colors
Baby Panther Chameleon soaking up sunlight

Expressing Submission

While the brightest colors are flashed during the dominance battle, once the chameleon has accepted loss it will take on dark colors as it retreats. Breeders will often see babies darken and crawl out of the way of the others when they have been bullied and feel like they can’t fight back.

baby Panther Chameleon being bullied

There are numerous reasons why a baby panther chameleon would darken up. One of them is that he is being bullied and is resigned to his fate.