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Mojave Max emerges from Las Vegas burrow, 2nd latest in history

Updated April 24, 2024 - 11:43 am

Mojave Max has finally emerged from his burrow.

The desert tortoise mascot for the Clark County Desert Conservation Program came out of his burrow at the Springs Preserve at 3:09 p.m. Tuesday.

It marked his second-latest emergence in the contest’s history.

Every year, Clark County School District elementary school students guess when Max will surface from his burrow for the spring.

Desert tortoises undergo their own form of hibernation called brumation, where they sleep for most of the fall and all of winter until they come out for the spring sometime between March and May.

The student who wins the emergence contest gets a field trip with their entire class to the Springs Preserve and a pizza party.

More than 4,100 guesses were received during this year’s emergence contest, according to the program.

A winner has not been announced yet.

“The Mojave Max education program has been a staple in our community for 24 years,” Marci Henson, director of the Clark County Department of Environment and Sustainability, said in a news release. “Each year thousands of Clark County elementary school students learn the importance of the threatened desert tortoise, why it is considered a keystone species, and the value of respecting and protecting our delicate desert ecosystem.”

Earlier in the afternoon on Tuesday, Max was seen moving closer to the entrance of his burrow to “get a better sense of the weather,” according to his Instagram.

Audrie Locke, public outreach coordinator for the program, told the Review-Journal earlier this month that Max was expected to come out from his burrow earlier than last year, when he had his latest emergence in his emergence contest’s history.

Max spent the winter alone in a shallower burrow than the one he was in last winter, which Locke said allowed him to feel the ground’s warmth more easily and help him decide to come out sooner.

Katrina Smith, senior zoologist at the Springs Preserve, said Max was the last of the four tortoises in the preserve’s 15-acre desert tortoise habitat to come out this year, but said it’s not unusual for tortoises to debut at different times.

“He was just happy as a clam in there,” Smith said. “Once he kind of turned himself around and started making his way out, then we were all very happy to see him emerge.”

Now, Katrina says Max is roaming about his habitat, and with this year having a wet spring, there’s a lot food options for Max to snack on and many flowers in bloom.

“He’s young, he’s healthy, he went into brumation very healthy, so there was never any concern with him,” Smith said. “He’s just kind of slow roller when it comes to waking up in the spring.”

Contact Taylor Lane at tlane@reviewjournal.com.

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