Mojave Max Has Emerged!

Media Contact:
Kevin J MacDonald, Public Information Administrator
702-232-0931 (mobile)

Thursday, April 15, 2021
Mojave Max Has Emerged...Finally!
Local Desert Tortoise’s Emergence Marks Beginning of Spring

Better late than never! Mojave Max, the famous Southern Nevada desert tortoise, officially emerged from his burrow today at 11:34 a.m., marking the third-latest emergence for the Clark County tortoise over the past 22 years. The latest Max has emerged is April 17, 2012, at 12:41 p.m. His earliest emergence was Feb. 14, 2005 at 11:55 a.m. Click here for footage of Max's emergence this morning. Additional, time-lapse footage from earlier this week.

Mojave Max is a live desert tortoise who calls the Las Vegas Springs Preserve his home. Like other Southern Nevada reptiles, he enters a burrow to brumate (the reptilian form of hibernation) every winter and emerges every spring. Mojave Max’s emergence marks the beginning of spring-like weather in Southern Nevada. Warmer temperatures, longer daylight hours and his own internal clock are factors known to contribute to his emergence every year.

As part of the 22nd annual Mojave Max Emergence Contest, elementary school students from Clark County, Nevada have been studying Mojave Desert weather, temperatures and conditions to scientifically estimate when they believed Mojave Max would emerge from his burrow in 2021. They entered their guesses online at The entries are being tabulated and the official winner of the Mojave Max Emergence 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 National Parks and Federal Recreation areas and a laptop computer. The winner’s entire class will receive Olympic-style medals and T-shirts as well as a trophy for his or her school, and a virtual field trip to the Springs Preserve to meet the live Mojave Max tortoise, while the winner’s teacher will receive a laptop computer.

“Mojave Max has typically emerged in late March and early April. We thought the warm weather last weekend would bring Max out sooner to signal the beginning of spring in Clark County,” said Kimberley Jenkins, principal environmental specialist with Clark County’s Desert Conservation Program. “As Max wakes up, we’re excited to continue educating local school children how to respect, protect and enjoy our desert.”

The Emergence Contest has taken place every year since 2000. More than 5,500 emergence contest guesses were received during this year’s Emergence Contest.

Questions about the live Mojave Max tortoise should be directed to Tom Bradley with the Las Vegas Springs Preserve at 702-822-8365. More information is available at or


About the Department of Environment and Sustainability
The Department of Environment and Sustainability is the air pollution control agency, regional Endangered Species Act compliance program, and sustainability office for all of Clark County, Nevada. Established as the Department of Air Quality by the Clark County Commission in 2001, it was renamed in 2020 and is comprised of three divisions: Air Quality, Desert Conservation Program and Office of Sustainability. Through these three divisions, DES is ensuring the air we share meets healthful, regulatory standards, administering the County's Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan and addressing climate change.

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 11th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to 2.4 million citizens and 45.6 million visitors a year (2019). Included are the nation’s 9th-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 1.1 million residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.