Why is My Veiled Chameleon Turning Black?

Is your pet chameleon suddenly turning black? Read through this article to understand what is happening to your chameleon. 

Veiled chameleons have recently become more common as exotic pets in many houses across the world. And just like other chameleons, veiled ones can also change their coloration.

And luckily for you, you can get a vague idea about the mood and physical well-being of your chameleon by looking at its color. 

Why is My Veiled Chameleon Turning Black

Why Does A Veiled Chameleon Change Color?

First, let’s try to understand why do they change colors and most of all, what does the color signify? The color of a chameleon can change because of the temperature of your room, and the mood they are in and is also used as a mode of communication. 

1.) The normal color of a veiled chameleon is green, and on top of this, there are specks of other colors like black, yellow, white, and brown, which generally develop as the creature itself develops.

2.) When your pet chameleon is in a relaxed mood, it will try to blend in with the surrounding, in classic chameleon style.

It would usually reflect in your chameleon turning green or brown, and if your chameleon does this, then rest assured, he is having a good time relaxing. 

3.) When you notice your chameleon changing color quickly it usually means only one thing: they are either shocked or on the defensive.

You might notice a veiled chameleon wrapping his body up into a small, compact, and unobtrusive ball shape as he gets darker.

A veiled chameleon’s normal course of action would be to wait it out in the same position and darker colors until the danger has passed.

If they continue to sense danger, they would not turn back to their bright colors and resume their normal behavior. 

4.) Veiled chameleons usually express excitement or stimulation through brighter colors. Light neon green is usually the color they take when they are in exciting moods. 

5.) Veiled chameleons changing color from a dark composition to a lighter one quickly can also signify that they have spotted a chameleon of the opposite sex and are engaging in the mating process. 

6.) When your chameleon feels hot, they tend to darken in color and when they feel cold they usually lighten up their skin color. 

What does turning black mean for your veiled chameleon

But what if one day your veiled chameleon suddenly turns black? One color that will cause fear in the minds of the pet owners is the color black, which the normally bright-looking chameleons are not known for.  

Veiled chameleons take up the black color for three main reasons: because they are either stressed, frightened, or just cold. It could even be a combination of these three reasons that cause your chameleon to turn black. 

There is no reason for you to panic, or fear the worst. In some rare cases, there is nothing that you can do to change the black color of your chameleon, but you can definitely help to prevent it from happening often and care for your chameleon the right way. 

1.) Stress

Stress is one of the main reasons why a chameleon can take up darker shades of color. Chameleons can get stressed quite easily and long-term stress can cause severe health issues for your pet chameleon, and even lead to death. 

Stress is one of the main reasons why a chameleon can take up darker shades of color

Changes: Any quick and sudden changes in their immediate surrounding would cause them stress and unnecessary stress should be avoided at all costs. 

Other Chameleons: Addition of other chameleons can cause them stress. Some chameleons are known to eat smaller chameleons and unless they are brought up together, there is less chance of them being comfortable in an enclosure together.

Chameleons may turn black because of this stress and won’t even move or eat unless they know for sure that they are safe. You may want to separate your chameleons if you have more than one and put them in different enclosures. 

Less Spacious Enclosures: Sometimes if the enclosure of your chameleon is too small they might turn black because chameleons like to move higher up when they sense any kind of danger, and if they do not have that option in a small enclosure they would feel stressed and scared.

If your veiled chameleon is found to be at the top of your enclosure and has turned black, then it is time for you to move him to a bigger enclosure. 

A dearth of Hiding Places: Also make sure that your enclosure has some hiding places ready for your chameleon. Chameleons, as you have observed, are pretty slow when it comes to movement.

So hiding is the best option for them if any predator comes near. They also sleep only in hiding places, since evolution has taught them that sleeping in the open is an invitation for predators like birds and snakes.   

Fewer Plants: Chameleons usually spent their entire life near plants and trees and have adapted their hunting, hiding, and surviving by using these florae. So if your enclosure does not have plants to help them hide, then your chameleon might feel stressed. 

2.) Frightened

Chameleons also turn black when they feel scared or are frightened by something. 

Other Pets: Pets like dogs and cats can sometimes come really close to a chameleon’s territory and this most definitely terrifies them.

Chameleons are especially scared of anything that is above them, since in the wild, anything that comes above them is most likely a predator. Cats are even more curious and may even start scratching the glass enclosure.

Dogs may even start barking. Any of this will cause the chameleon a lot of stress and will most likely turn black and even lay down as a form of self-defense. 

Too much crowd: If the room that your chameleon is flooded with people, chameleons will most probably be frightened by all the movements and noise outside and turn black.

Chameleons do not like too many movements and have always lived in isolation for much activity in the wild.

Also, remember that chameleons do not like to be handled by a lot of people. So if you are throwing a party, make sure your chameleon is safe in a different room and out of reach of your friends. 

Too near the window: Putting their enclosures near the window is a big NO. Chameleons have always fallen prey to birds and have since found safety in hiding from open spaces where they cannot be hunted.

So if you put them near the window where they have a view of the birds around your house, they will turn black, out of fear. 

3.) Temperature

Just like other cold-blooded animals, veiled chameleons rely on external heat to maintain their ideal body temperature. 

Chameleons in the wild would usually bask in the sunlight but at the same time would need some space to keep themselves away from the source of heat. This is another reason why they spend time under leaves and plants.

Just like how a black T-shirt absorbs more heat, so does a black chameleon. A chameleon that feels cold will turn black so that it can absorb more heat. 

The best thing to do in such a situation is to provide your chameleon with more heat. Increase the wattage of the bulb you have kept in your chameleon’s room. You could also alternatively try moving the enclosure closer to the bulb. 

Make sure your chameleon is able to absorb sufficient heat, this is important for their survival. 


So if you notice that your veiled chameleon has turned black do not panic. Your chameleon must be facing one of the problems that we have mentioned in the article.

Take care that you remove all stress signs and provide your chameleon with a sign of safety. Make sure your enclosure provides your chameleon with all the necessities that it requires, and make it as replicable as its natural habitat.

This way you could probably prevent your chameleon from turning black again. 

Susan R Elliston

I have over 11 years of experience as a vet working with a wonderful variety of species of innocent and lovely animals. Whilst I still work two days a week for a local practice, I realized that I could help more people by sharing my knowledge and experience with my readers.

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