LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Southern Nevada’s famous desert tortoise, Mojave Max, officially emerged from his burrow Monday marking the unofficial beginning of spring in Clark County.

Max emerged at 3:40 p.m. Monday, making it the latest he has ever emerged from his burrow. The earliest he has emerged was Feb. 14, 2005, at 11:55 a.m. Prior to 2023, the latest he emerged was April 17, 2012, at 12:41 p.m.

Max lives at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve and enters his burrow to brumate, the reptilian form of hibernation, every winter and emerges in the spring. His emergence marks the beginning of spring-like weather in Southern Nevada.

“Each year, Mojave Max’s emergence signals the unofficial beginning of spring in Clark County,” Marci Henson, Director of the Clark County Department of Environment and Sustainability said. “Thanks to the Mojave Max team, this school year alone nearly 10,000 Clark County elementary school students learned the importance of the threatened desert tortoise, why it is considered a keystone species, and the importance of respecting and protecting our delicate desert ecosystem so it can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

As part of the annual Mojave Max Emergence Contest, elementary school students across Clark County studied Mojave Desert weather, temperatures, and conditions to scientifically estimate when they think Max would emerge from his burrow.

They entered their guess online and the official winner of the contest will be announced soon. The winning student will receive prizes including a year-long family membership to the Springs Preserve, an “America the Beautiful” year-long family pass to the National Parks and Federal Recreation, and a laptop computer.

The winner’s entire class will also receive Olympic-style medals, T-shirts, a trophy for the school, and a field trip with a pizza party to the Springs Preserve to meet Mojave Max. The winner’s teacher will also receive a laptop.