What groundhog? Desert tortoise decides when it's spring in Las Vegas

Mojave Max is the desert's groundhog. (KSNV File)

Groundhog Day is over, and the furry guy predicts an early spring, but the desert has its own version of this annual event, and it’s hosted by a not- so-furry mascot.

Mojave Max, a desert tortoise who lives at Springs Preserve, has been marking the beginning of spring and teaching students about desert conservation for over 20 years.

Every fall, when the weather cools off, Max goes into a reptile version of hibernation, called brumation, by entering his burrow and staying there until the weather begins to warm up.

To make the his eventual emergence even more exciting, the Clark County Desert Conservation Program organizes a contest for students from kindergarten to fifth grade, giving them the chance to win prizes if they can guess when Mojave Max will come out of his burrow.

Students must be from Clark County and enrolled in public, private or registered home schools.

Prizes for the student whose guess is closest to Max’s time of emergence include Mojave Max t-shirts, Olympic-style medals, a pizza party and a field trip to Springs Preserve.

Also, the winner and the winner’s teacher receive free laptop computers.

For a complete rules list and more information on how to submit guesses, visit the Mojave Max website.

Hint: In 2018, Mojave Max emerged on Friday, March 23, at 11:11 a.m.

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