Famous Southern Nevada desert tortoise Mojave Max officially emerged from his burrow Tuesday, the second-earliest emergence since the contest began in 2000.
He came out of his burrow around 1:20 p.m. Tuesday. The earliest he has emerged was on Feb. 14, 2005, at 11:55 a.m. The latest he has emerged is April 17, 2012.
Mojave Max calls Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area his home. Like other Southern Nevada reptiles, he enters a burrow to brumate -- the reptilian form of hibernation -- every winter and emerges every spring.
Mojave Max’s emergence traditionally marks the beginning of spring-like weather in Southern Nevada. Warmer temperatures, longer daylight hours and his own internal clock are factors known to contribute to his emergence every year. Daylight Savings Time begins Saturday.
Mojave Max predicts spring like Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog predicts it back east. Phil predicted it would also be an early spring last month.
This year was the 17th annual Mojave Max Emergence Contest where students have been studying Mojave Desert weather, temperatures and conditions to scientifically estimate when they believed Mojave Max would emerge from his burrow in 2016. They entered their guesses online at www.mojavemax.com.
The entries are being tabulated and the official winner of the Mojave Max Emergence Contest will be announced soon.
The winning student will receive prizes including an “America the Beautiful” year-long pass to National Parks and Federal Recreation 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, while the winner’s teacher will receive a laptop computer.