California’s Mojave Max emerged from hibernation on February 24, at 1:52 p.m. Max is a female desert tortoise of approximately 30 year of age who had been slumbering through the winter in her burrow at The Living Desert in Palm Desert, California. The exact environmental triggers for a desert tortoise to emerge from hibernation (technically called brumation in reptiles) are not known, but they are likely factors associated with more hospitable tortoise conditions on the surface, such as warm weather and the promise of tasty and succulent spring wildflowers.
The Mojave Max Emergence Contest began in Nevada as a way for the public to learn about desert tortoises and what can be done to help this threatened species. In 2005 the Desert Managers Group began a California version of the Mojave Max Emergence Contest. The object of the contest is to guess when Mojave Max will emerge from her burrow after her long winter sleep.
The tortoise’s debut was hailed by more than 850 California students, who have been studying Mojave Desert weather, temperatures, and conditions to scientifically estimate when Mojave Max would emerge. Contest participants entered their guesses on line at www.mojavemax.com.
Entries are being tabulated and the official winner(s) are in the process of being notified. The Mojave Max Emergence Contest is open to Southern California K-12 students in Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties. Winning students and their teachers are awarded gift certificates, and each winning class receives t-shirts and a pizza party.
For more desert tortoise media information including news stories, press releases, newsletters, and public service announcements, go to: www.deserttortoise.gov. For Desert Managers Group information, go to: www.dmg.gov. For The Living Desert information, go to: www.livingdesert.org.