On Thursday, Feb. 2, “Groundhog Day,” Southern Nevada will be embarking on the “Mojave Max Watch.”

Mojave Max is a real live tortoise that lives at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Although the live Mojave Max is still in brumation (reptilian form of hibernation), all students from Clark County, Nevada, in grades K-12, who are enrolled in public, private and registered home schools are encouraged to enter a guess as to when they think Max will wake up from his long winter nap.

Mojave Max has hosted the annual Mojave Max Emergence Contest since 2000 and has become the preeminent indicator of spring-like weather in Southern Nevada and the west coast.

Media are also invited to attend the Mojave Max school assembly at Dean Allen Elementary School, located at 8680 W. Hammer Lane in Las Vegas, NV on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 9:30 a.m. There, students will learn about Mojave Max, the desert in which we live and which factors to consider when making a guess as to when Max will emerge from his burrow.

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, every fall when the hot Las Vegas weather cools off, Max goes into his burrow to begin brumation.  He sleeps for five or six months and then emerges sometime in the spring, signaling the beginning of the season.

Clark County, along with its partners, 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. To enter the contest, you can log onto www.MojaveMax.com and click on the “Emergence Contest” button.

The Clark County student who guesses closest to the actual time of Max’s emergence wins the contest for his or her classroom.  The winning student receives his or her own laptop computer, a digital camera, a laptop computer for his or her teacher, T-shirts for the winning class, a traveling trophy for their school, a pizza party and field trip to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area to meet Mojave Max.  The winning student also receives a year-long pass that can be used at all federally managed fee areas including Red Rock Canyon 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.

For more information and to enter the Mojave Max Emergence Contest, visit www.mojavemax.com.                                                                         ###


Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability.  With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 14th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to more than 2.2 million citizens and 46.2 million visitors a year. Included are the nation’s 8th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The County also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to about 951,000 residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.