Mojave Max Watch, Contest Begin Thursday | Community Spirit
Groundhog Day arrives Thursday and in southern Nevada, the “Mojave Max Watch” will begin.
Although the live Mojave Max is still sleeping, people are invited to visit the desert tortoise at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Visitor’s Center and join the Mojave Max Watch between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. A special display has been set up where everyone can participate in predicting and watching for his emergence.
While Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog, is pulled from his burrow and asked if he sees his shadow, Mojave Max simply waits for the moment when the daylight and weather are just right before coming out from his burrow and proclaiming spring.
Like all desert tortoises, Mojave Max goes to sleep in October or November of each year. He sleeps for five or six months and then emerges sometime in the spring, signaling the beginning of the season.
Clark County hosts the annual Mojave Max Emergence Contest, education programs and school assemblies in support of Mojave Desert environmental education. As part of the contest, students are encouraged to guess when Mojave Max will first exit his burrow each year. Mojave Max usually emerges in March, but has emerged since 2000 as early as February 14 and as late as April 14.
The Clark County student who guesses closest to the actual time of the tortoise’s emergence wins the contest for his or her classroom, whose students receive medals, T-shirts, a pizza party and a field trip to Red Rock National Conservation Area.
The Mojave Max Education Program is provided by a partnership among Clark County, the Clark County School District, the Bureau of Land Management and the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association.