The Living Desert said Mojave Maxine emerged from brumation Monday January 18th at 10:23am.
The 43-year-old desert tortoise is the ultimate predictor that spring is near.
“The temperatures this January have been extremely warm – in the upper 80s, so it’s not surprising that Maxine predicts an early spring,” said Dr. James Danoff-Burg, Director of Conservation Engagement. “Interestingly, this marks the 8th year in a row that she has debuted several days earlier than the previous year. This continuing trend seems to reflect a warming climate.”
Each winter, Mojave Maxine retires to her underground burrow and remains there in a state of brumation, a hibernation-like state, for several months.
She emerges in early spring as the warm days begin to arrive in the desert, ready for fresh flowers, a favorite meal for the desert tortoise.
Every year students from Imperial, Inyo, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, Ventura, and Kern counties are invited to participate in a contest to guess the date and time that Mojave Maxine will emerge.
The first contest entry received from each county that is closest to the exact day and time wins a virtual classroom visit from a desert tortoise and biologist, Mojave Maxine t-shirts for their entire class, and a tortoise book for their teacher’s library.
“The contest is a fun way to get children involved and help them learn about the behaviors of the desert tortoise, along with what they can do to help protect them,” said Alex Ocañas, Conservation Social Scientist. “We will be reaching out to the winners soon.”