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October 25, 2014

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Is spring really here? Mojave Max says yes

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Bureau of Land Management

Mojave Max

Map of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

1000 Scenic Drive, Las Vegas

Mojave Max has decided not to delay the start of spring any longer.

The famous desert tortoise shut off his internal alarm, ended his hibernation and moseyed out of his burrow, heralding the start of spring at 1:45 p.m. Thursday. Last year Max did not leave his burrow until April 17, the latest he’d ever done so, Clark County Desert Conservation officials said.

Every winter Max enters his burrow at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and brumates (the reptilian form of hibernating), only to emerge when the weather is warmer, the sun is out longer and his internal clock goes off. His sighting marks the unofficial start to spring in Clark County.

Punxsutawney Phil, the famed Pennsylvania rodent, saw his shadow on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, forecasting an early spring.

During Max’s slumber, Clark County school students study Mojave Desert weather, temperatures and conditions and can enter a contest to predict when Max will leave his burrow. The winner will receive several prizes that include a laptop, a digital camera and a yearlong pass to federally managed parks.

The winning student’s class also will receive a field trip to Mojave Max’s habitat, T-shirts and a pizza party.

The earliest Mojave Max has ever emerged from his burrow was Feb. 14 in 2005.

Officially, spring begins at 4:02 a.m. Wednesday.

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