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A little slow: Mojave Max emerges from historic slumber

Updated April 24, 2023 - 6:32 pm

Mojave Max has left his burrow, and spring in Southern Nevada has officially begun.

Every year, school children across Clark County guess the day and time Max will emerge from his burrow after brumation (hibernation for reptiles). The student who guesses the time of Max’s emergence wins a class field trip to meet Max at his home, the Springs Preserve, and other prizes.

Mojave Max left his burrow at the Springs Preserve on Monday at 3:40 p.m. — his latest emergence in the contest’s 23-year history. The previous record was set on April 17, 2012, at 12:41 p.m.

A winner of the emergence contest has not been announced yet. More than 4,200 guesses were received during this year’s contest, according to a Clark County news release.

Audrie Locke, public outreach coordinator for the Clark County Desert Conservation Program, said Max, the program’s mascot, finally emerged after one of his roommates came out earlier in the day, returned to the burrow, and came out again — this time with Max in tow.

Springs Preserve senior zoologist Katrina Smith said Max’s roommate had been popping her head out of the burrow a bit over the past few weeks to sunbathe, but seeing Max finally join her outside the burrow was an exciting sight.

Now, Max is out wandering on the Springs Preserve’s outdoor tortoise habitat after five months underground. He entered his brumation on Nov. 21 last year.

“We’re going to keep an eye on him and have more information to share when he does anything exciting, which, you know, he’s a tortoise — it probably won’t have quickly,” Locke said.

Smith said Max was greeted by a full bowl of water next to his winter home. Tortoises emerge dehydrated after living off of the water and food stores in their body during brumation.

Soon, Max’s will undergo his post-brumation wellness check, which is scheduled to coincide with the class field trip and pizza party celebration.

Smith said Max is a young tortoise, and is expected to pass his check up with flying colors after doing well in his vet visit before he went into brumation in the fall.

“He’s always had a clean bill of health,” Smith said. “And so we’re just glad he did finally show his face because I know there’s been a lot of concern from the public.

“We very much appreciate everyone’s concern and how much they really enjoy Max and the program and the messaging that he brings. We have a lot of fun being able to have him at the Springs Preserve.”

The next emergence contest opens in the fall.

Contact Taylor Lane at tlane@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tmflane on Twitter.

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