On Monday, Feb. 2, “Groundhog Day,” Southern Nevada will be embarking on the “Mojave Max Watch.”
Although the live Mojave Max is still in brumation (reptilian form of hibernation), the public is welcome to visit the desert tortoise in his habitat at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Visitor Center and join the Mojave Max Watch between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily. A special display has been set up where everyone can participate in predicting the time and date when Mojave Max will emerge from his burrow.
While Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog, is pulled from his burrow and asked if he sees his shadow, Mojave Max simply waits for the moment when the daylight and weather are just right before coming out from his burrow and proclaiming spring.
Like all desert tortoises, every fall when the hot Las Vegas weather cools off, Max goes into his burrow to begin brumation. He sleeps for five or six months and then emerges sometime in the spring, signaling the beginning of the season.
Clark County, along with its partners, hosts the annual Mojave Max Emergence Contest, education programs and school assemblies in support of Mojave Desert environmental education. As part of the contest, students are encouraged to guess when Mojave Max will first exit his burrow each year. To enter the contest, you can log onto www.MojaveMax.com
and click on the “Emergence Contest” button.
The Clark County student who guesses closest to the actual time of Max’s emergence wins the contest for his or her classroom. The winning student receives his or her own laptop computer, a digital camera, a laptop computer for his or her teacher, T-shirts for the winning class, a traveling trophy for their school, a pizza party and field trip to Red Rock National Conservation Area to meet Mojave Max. The winning student also receives a year-long pass that can be used at all federally managed fee areas including Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
The Mojave Max Education Program is provided by a partnership among Clark County, the Clark County School District, the Bureau of Land Management and the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association.
For more information and to enter the Mojave Max Emergence Contest, visit www.mojavemax.com