Chameleons change colour in order to hide
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Achameleon's skin can change colour from green to black, red, blue, purple, or multicoloured, but the amazing trick is not meant to help the animal hide – on the contrary.
Just like numerous other lizards, chameleons are well hidden in their natural surroundings, as long as they keep their green colour. When they change colour, they often become extremely visible, and that is the idea.
The beautiful colours are primarily used for unambigous communication with peers. Brightly red males can make their rivals flee, and pregnant females can tell horny males that they are wasting their time.
The colour change often takes place, as the animal gets excited, such as at the sight of another male. Hormones and signals from the brain make microscopic crystals in the skin cells change structure to reflect the light differently and so appear in a different colour.
In other cases, chameleons use the colour change to control their body temperature. When the animals are cold, they make their skin darker to absorb more heat from the sunlight.