As the hot Las Vegas weather began to cool, Max headed for his burrow. The date was November 22, 2022. How long would the desert tortoise stay inside? Thousands of students in Nevada sent their guesses. Each tried to predict when Mojave Max would come back. A fifth grader named Edin won the contest!
Mojave Max lives at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve in Nevada. As his name suggests, his is the Mojave Desert. That’s the hottest desert in the United States. Each fall, Max goes into his burrow to begin brumation. That means the tortoise rests, his energy (and heat) in a hole. When the weather warms, he comes out again. This is similar to hibernation. However, tortoises are reptiles and cold-blooded. Reptiles do not hibernate.
Max leaves his burrow at a different time each year. Since 2000, he has come out twice in February. Usually, he emerges in March. Sometimes Max does that in April. This year marked the latest date for the end of his brumation. He left his burrow on April 24, 2023, at 3:40 p.m. Nearly 4,600 students sent a guess. Only 23 had the right date. Edin had the closest time (3:14 p.m.).
Tom Bradley works at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve. He told News-O-Matic why Mojave Max came out so late this year. “We had a cooler-than-normal winter,” Bradley explained. “Because the ground didn’t warm up as fast as it usually does, he decided not to come out earlier.”
Officials visited Edin’s school on May 3. They gave Edin a laptop computer and a pass to America’s parks. His whole class got medals and T-shirts. And they will all get to shell-ebrate with Mojave Max. They’re having a pizza party at the Springs Preserve!
“This marks the 23rd year of the Mojave Max Emergence Contest,” said Marci Henson. She works for Clark County, Nevada. “Mojave Max has helped teach tens of thousands of Clark County school children about our Mojave Desert,” she explained. Henson said it’s their “mission to engage our community in respecting, protecting, and enjoying the desert .”
Updated May 4, 2023, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Russell Kahn (Russ)