Bureau of Land Management
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 | 2:50 p.m.
In case you hadn’t noticed: Spring has officially arrived in Southern Nevada.
Mojave Max, the famous desert tortoise, emerged from his burrow at 12:41 p.m. today to herald the official arrival of spring in the desert. It is, according to officials with the Clark County Desert Conservation Program and the federal Bureau of Land Management, the latest he has come out since 2000.
Mojave Max is a live desert tortoise. Like other Southern Nevada reptiles, he enters a burrow to brumate (the reptilian form of hibernation) every winter and emerges every spring. Warmer temperatures, longer daylight hours and an internal clock are factors known to contribute to his emergence every year, the officials said.
Punxsutawney Phil, another famed spring prognosticator, emerged from his burrow in Pennsylvania on Feb. 2 to forecast six more weeks of winter, which would have put spring’s start in mid-March. The spring equinox was March 20.
Students across the Las Vegas Valley have been studying Mojave Desert weather, temperatures and conditions to scientifically estimate when Max would emerge this year. The county, Clark County School District, Bureau of Land Management and the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association have used Mojave Max as the basis for the contest every year since.
Before today’s emergence, the latest Mojave Max has come out of its burrow was in 2008 (April 14). The earliest Mojave Max has emerged was in 2005 (Feb. 14).