Spring has sprung in Sin City: Famous Las Vegas tortoise named Mojave Max emerges from his winter home to signal warm weather has arrived – and this is the earliest in 23 years
Mojave Max emerged from his winter burrow in the Las Vegas desert, signaling that sprung has sprung in the region.
The tortoise is Sin City’s version of a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania, which locals rely on to know when warmer weather is settling in.
Max appeared with its burrow-mate on April 24 at 3:40pm PST at the Springs Reserve, marking the earliest escape from his winter abode in 23 years.
Warmer temperatures, longer daylight hours, and the tortoise’s internal clock are factors known to contribute to his emergence every year.
Officials at Spring Preserve in Nevada announced Mojave Max and his burrow-mate have emerged from their winter home – the earliest in 23 years
In Las Vegas, where the threatened species’ reptilian winter rest is called brumation, the earliest a Mojave Max has emerged since 2000 was a little before noon on Feb. 14, 2005.
The latest had been April 17, 2012.
Three male tortoises have been born to the moniker Mojave Max.
Today’s Max is marked with a radio-transmitting device attached to his shell.
The tortoise seen with Mojave Max on Monday does not have a name.
Biologists at the Springs Preserve think this year’s exceptionally cold winter that brought frequent rain and abundant snow to mountains in the West also kept the desert surface cool later into the spring, Springs Preserve spokesman Tom Bradley Jr. said Tuesday.
‘It’s taken longer for the soil in the burrow to warm,’ Bradley said. ‘Once it finally warmed up, Max came out.’
Springs Preserve consists of 180 acres dedicated to nature walks and displays and is owned and operated by the Las Vegas Valley Water District.
The desert tortoise is considered a keystone species and an indicator of the health of a fragile desert ecosystem.
Warmer temperatures, longer daylight hours, and the tortoise’s internal clock are factors known to contribute to his emergence every year
The tortoise is Sin City’s version of Punxsutawney Phil (pictured) in Pennsylvania, which locals rely on to know when warmer weather is settling in
The habits and habitat of Mojave Max are studied by children at Clark County public and private schools, where officials say more than 4,200 students in grades K-5 entered this year’s contest to guess the day the tortoise would emerge.
Officials said a winner of the 23rd annual contest will be announced soon.
Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania’s version of Mojave Max, predicted there would be six more weeks of winter when he saw his shadow on February 2.
However, a report from Accuweather released 22 days after Groundhog Day showed that millions of Americans from Texas to New York are experiencing their earliest spring in decades as temperatures remain well above historical averages.
The weather organization noted that the prediction was made a day before Phil called for six more weeks of winter.
Data from Yale shows that March 2023 was Earth’s second warmest March on record.
‘The only warmer March in all three databases was 2016, near the end of the record-strong 2014-16 El Niño event,’ reads the report.
NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information reported on April 13 that temperatures were 2.23 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average.