Forget Groundhog Day — California has a tortoise that signals the coming of spring

Who would you trust for a weather prediction: a groundhog or a tortoise?

Every year on Feb. 2, fans wait for the groundhog known as Punxsutawney Phil to emerge from hibernation and check for his shadow. Depending on whether or not Phil “sees” his shadow could mean an early spring, according to tradition.

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But these powers of prediction aren’t exclusive to Phil, apparently, and he’s far from the only animal that can allegedly sense the coming of warmer weather.

Enter Mojave Maxine.

Locals in California watch for a tortoise named Mojave Maxine (not pictured) to emerge from her brumation as a signal that spring is coming.
(iStock)

In California, locals near the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert wait for a tortoise — the aforementioned Mojave Maxine — to emerge from her brumation, or a hibernation-like slumber, in order to predict an early spring.

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However, unlike Groundhog Day, when folks wait to see what Phil will predict, Mohave reportedly waits for the weather to warm up before she emerges, making her less of a predictor of spring and more of a signifier, or indicator.

In any case, residents still have fun waiting for Maxine to emerge. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens runs a contest to see who can most accurately predict when Maxine will come out of brumation. Students from nearby counties submit entries, and “the first entry received from each county that is closest to the exact day and time wins,” the zoo explains.

Turns out spring might already be here, too: Maxine reportedly emerged this year sometime between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Jan. 23. But since California is so far away from Pennsylvania, this information likely won’t affect Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction at all.

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It’s also worth noting that Phil only has an accuracy rate of 39 percent as of 2019.