The California counterpart of groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil is a desert tortoise named Mojave Maxine. Her claim to season-predicting fame doesn't involve her shadow. Maxine's ninth year of prediction involves awakening and toddling out of her burrow.
Forty-year-old Maxine begins hibernation around Thanksgiving. Her body knows when to sleep based on the outside temperatures and the change in daylight hours.
At The Living Desert Animal Park in Palm Desert, everyone remains vigilant watching Maxine's rock-lined burrow. After her brumation (reptilian hibernation period), she will awaken and trundle out.
When will Mojave Maxine emerge in 2017? Each year a contest is held for students to guess the date and time Maxine will make appearance of the year.
Mojave Maxine left her burrow on Feb. 8 in 2016. Watch The Living Desert, which will announce the tortoise's emergence and the end of California winter.
Student prediction contest: http://www.livingdesert.org/mojave-maxine/