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October 23, 2014

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Mojave Max leaves his burrow, signals spring in Southern Nevada

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Courtesy Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association

Mojave Max explores his pen at Red Rock Canyon’s visitor center Tuesday shortly after emerging from his burrow for the spring. Max’s return to activity is said to mark the start of spring in Southern Nevada.

Maybe Mojave Max was just waiting for a 90-degree forecast before emerging from his burrow and heralding the arrival of spring in Southern Nevada?

Max, a desert tortoise that calls Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area his home, officially emerged from his burrow at 4:10 p.m. today, according to Clark County Desert Conservation officials.

Tradition dictates that Max’s emergence marks the beginning of springlike weather in Southern Nevada. Warmer temperatures, longer daylight hours and an internal clock are factors known to contribute to his emergence every year.

The Las Vegas National Weather Service is forecasting the first 90-degree high of the year for Wednesday and 90 degrees again on Thursday in the valley.

Like other Southern Nevada reptiles, Max enters a burrow to brumate (the reptilian form of hibernation) every winter and emerges every spring.

With Max’s emergence from his burrow, county officials are tabulating entries from the 15th annual Mojave Max Emergence Contest. Students all over Clark County have been studying Mojave Desert weather, temperatures and conditions to estimate when they believed Mojave Max would emerge from his burrow in 2014 and submitting their guesses to the contest. The winning student will receive prizes including a yearlong pass to federally managed fee areas, a laptop computer and a digital camera. The winner’s entire class will receive a field trip, with a pizza party, to Mojave Max’s habitat, Mojave Max Olympic-style medals and T-shirts. The winner’s teacher will receive a laptop computer.

The latest Mojave Max has come out of his burrow was April 17 in 2012. The earliest he has emerged is Feb. 14 in 2005.

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