Mojave Max is more likely to emerge from hibernation on a Wednesday in March than any other day, but it’s a toss-up whether the state’s famed desert tortoise decides to come out in the morning or the afternoon.
That is information Clark County students in kindergarten through grade six may want to consider as they make their guesses on when Mojave Max will emerge from brumation — the tortoise version of hibernation — at Springs Preserve. The student whose guess is closest to the day, hour and minute when the high-profile reptile emerges from his winter burrow will claim a raft of prizes.
The grand prize winner and the student’s class will win shirts, Olympic-style medals, a pizza party and a field trip to see Max in his habitat. The winner also gets a laptop, a digital camera and an “America the Beautiful” yearlong pass to the national parks. The best guesser’s teacher will win a laptop, too.
Although the historical data may give you an edge, a new, younger Mojave Max is throwing a new wrinkle into the guessing game this year. In September, the 28-year-old Red Rock Canyon-dwelling Mojave Max was retired in favor of a 14-year-old who lives in Springs Preserve.
“Since 2000, Mojave Max has helped teach thousands of school children how to respect, protect and enjoy our desert ecosystem” program manager Marci Henson said at the time. “We believe that this move will allow more Clark County students access to Mojave Max and the Mojave Max education program.”
Since 2000, the former Max popped up from his burrow nine times in March, seven times in April and only twice in February. Monday was the chosen day six times, followed by Tuesday at five and Wednesday at three. Max emerged twice on a Thursday and Friday. In 18 years, he’s chosen the morning nine times and the afternoon nine times.
The earliest he’s shown his face was in 2005, when he popped up at 11:55 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 14. The latest was in 2012, when he emerged at 12:31 p.m. on April 17, a Tuesday.
Until last year, Max’s emergence was based on a human monitoring, which explains why he was always spotted during the week and suggests Mondays may be overrepresented. Now, a trail camera will get the precise time stamp and add weekends into the mix.