Two weeks ago our building decided to test its emergency power generators. They assured us there should be no problems (never the case) and that electronics plugged into emergency wall sockets shouldn’t have a disruption in power while others might experience small outages that evening.
We assumed our incubator was in the emergency socket and had little concern to think that any disruption to power would cause problems. Needless to say, that was not the case. There was a surge when the power came on and according to the repair tech it fried 2 boards… however when power was restored instead of returning to its preset temp, room temp, or even remaining off, it decided to turn on and drop the temp to freezing (or below) (we are unsure of the exact temp as the display board was one of the 2 that fried). Everything inside was covered in frost and ice including the few remaining eggs I decided to spare from embryo extractions and allow to hatch for breeding next year.
I was sure that they were all lost. I had no doubt they could withstand brief cold snaps (and even seen TX spiny lizard eggs become completely solid through desiccation and fully rehydrate with the embryos still living), but had little expectation of these little anoles surviving a rapid freeze. I can’t begin to express how frustrated I was thinking I had lost all these eggs I had set aside for the last 6 weeks and were sooo close to hatching.
I quickly made a makeshift incubator putting them in a closed chamber with warm water to provide heat and humidity, and after being severely annoyed for most of the day, I decided to just let them continue like this until they either hatched or rotted.
I must say I am impressed by the durability of these little guys as we now have 12 adorable hatchlings running around happy and green and 1 remaining egg eagerly waiting to pop.
Since they have survived a harrowing near death experience I must also assume they have been born with super-lizard powers and have given them appropriate names such as “Mr. Freeze,” “Sub-Zero,” and “Bobby Drake” (aka Iceman). Time will tell if we will see their powers develop and mature.
Now an interesting addition to this story: I was telling the guy who collects anoles for us in Louisiana about what had happened and he was not at all surprised. He claims to commonly find new hatchlings early in the spring season whose eggs must have wintered and just recently hatched. He also says he knows this is possible because a few eggs will fall into cracks in his large holding pens, where he houses the animals he collects, and in the spring he will find that the ones he missed or couldn’t reach will often hatch out once it begins to warm again.
I had never heard of carolinensis doing this before (though I know it can occur in a few other reptiles). Considering these guys can often hatch in 4 weeks, going into winter stasis didn’t seem like something they would need to do since it would affect only the very latest clutches of eggs, and extending a 4-6 week incubation period to 4-6 months is quite impressive.