How a Stanford rabbit lost its tail to a bike and other animal stories

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:54 p.m.

Much to students’ amazement, animal encounters on campus have become as much of a Stanford quirk as CS106A enrollments — abundant and showing no signs of slowing down. After the previous two installments (see intruding raccoons and spraying skunks) of this series, hearing more quirky stories warranted a third. 

Apart from the economics majors on campus, snakes have been discovered slithering around student dorms. Henry Liera ’22, familiar with the hijinks of hares and raccoons (see earlier articles), recalled the discovery of many snakes around the Enchanted Broccoli Forest (EBF) dorm. Springtime at Stanford ushers in “the most holy day of the year,” according to Liera. According to him, this holiday last spring quarter brought snakes wriggling around the parking lots as residents caught COVID-19 left and right. Liera claimed the dorm to be entering “his Book of Revelations era,” with snakes and plague abound. 

At Stanford, unsavory bike incidents seem to be as commonplace as flaking on lunch plans. Isabel Gallegos ’22 M.S. ’23 recalled a striking rabbit collision that grievously resulted in loss of limb for the fluffy creature. She was walking towards the Engineering Quad her freshman year. A man was quickly biking through the gates at the edge of Main Quad and simultaneously, a rabbit was scampering across in the perpendicular direction. “He was biking really fast and the rabbit also looked to be on the run,” said Gallegos. When the rabbit’s presence dawned upon him, “the man yelped, but he was going so fast, he couldn’t stop.” Suddenly, a ball of gray floof was suspended in the air. 

Two pictures showcase a snack slithering on cement. One photo is shows the snake next to a bike rack.
Snakes slither on pavement near EBF. (Photo: Henry Liera)

According to Gallegos, the rabbit’s tail seemed to have been cleaved off. “It was so bizarre. I didn’t believe my eyes,” said Gallegos. As the biker sped off, the bunny scuttled away, though slightly off-course from its original trajectory.

Communal bathrooms can be disturbing enough, but Julien Broussard ’24 did not expect the first-floor bathroom in his dorm to become a funeral home for rodents. “The first floor bathroom [was] a warzone,” Broussard said. 

One day, he walked in and noticed two fuzzy balls on the floor. Upon closer inspection, he realized there was one mouse that had passed away and “an alive one mourning” the body of its dearly departed. After capturing enough pictures, including a selfie, he eventually departed the bathroom himself. Broussard felt it incumbent upon himself to “to bring [the mouse story to] as many people as I could to see the spectacle.” 

In his dorm, the mouse story “was the star of the show all day long.” The striking incident conjured a mixed bag of emotions for Broussard. “I felt really sad and also thought it was really cute and really disgusting,” he said. Although frankly, he was not that surprised by the scene given the state of affairs in his dorm.

Screenshot of Slack message with the mice, one hovering over the other in mourning.
Screenshot of Slack message with the mice. (Photo: Julien Broussard)

When Joaquin Castillo M.S. ’23 came to Stanford, he expected to enjoy the rich Bay Area biodiversity, but not so intimately, perhaps. Castillo lives in apartment housing among “lots of loud squirrels” that “like to scream right outside [his] window.” When asked how he knew the squealing was of the squirrel persuasion, he responded that he had heard the same sound in a tree on campus. “I ran to the tree to see what kind of bird it was,” he said. Alas, the perpetrator was not a bird, but a black squirrel letting loose. Despite the convenience of his animal alarm clock, Castillo wearily opined that “the campus needs more owls or something.” 

If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series, you might recall Hagrid’s spider friend Aragog, whose children could be seen roaming nooks and crannies on the castle grounds. Like Harry, Zach Lo ’23 had similar arthropod encounters bookending his undergraduate career. During his freshman year, he ran into a hairy tarantula on a morning run at the Dish. Lo said, “I thought, ‘holy shit, that’s crazy,’” then went about his day. After going on a run this past Fall quarter, Lo was astonished by the sight of not one, but five tarantulas scrabbling across the pavement. Proud of his growing affinity for arachnids, Lo explained that, “The first time, I freaked out. This time, I was excited.” 

A tarantula crawls over the pavement near the Dish.
A tarantula crawls over the pavement near the Dish. (Photo: Zach Lo)

Jesus Cervantes ’23 had an eventful summer on campus. One late evening, he returned from a friend’s place in Munger. “As I passed the post office, I saw a coyote by the dumpsters. In order to avoid it, I took a longer route via Old Union.” To his alarm, he caught sight of the coyote nearing him as he sneaked out of a door near The Axe and Palm (TAP). “I know coyotes are shy, so I thought it was weird that it was approaching me. It was too close, so I skeeted away.” 

But Cervantes had yet another tale to share. With plans for a tranquil evening of skateboarding, Cervantes took his board out to coast the hill near Mayfield Avenue. But what, pray tell, did he see as he drifted down? A coyote skulking along the road. To Cervantes, his evening was “all going downhill” — both literally and figuratively. As he coasted down, the coyote started trotting behind him. Mulling over these distinct late-night encounters, Cervantes simply said, “These coyotes stay following me.”

Animal run-ins are among the trials and tribulations of being a Stanford student. As mundane as a weekly problem set, we accept their presence, no matter how persistent or perturbing.

Contact Sarayu at smpai918 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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