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Campus critters

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Have you ever found yourself witness to odd semblances of movement in corner of your eye, especially on walks back to the dorm at night? Or bushes that stir aggressively even on windless evenings? What about flashes of color flitting across the concrete in broad daylight, while you sip a coffee in Meyer Green and shake off the sight, thinking it must be the third cup of coffee kicking in?

It’s neither the caffeine nor a simple trick of the eyes. As it turns out, Stanford has an unexpected abundance of animal life sprinkled in mysterious patches across the campus, ranging from the tiniest of critters to the largest of beasts. Here are a few of the latest sightings:

1. The jackrabbits

These deer/bunny animorphs prance across the darkest stretches of grass they can find in all of their long-legged glory. Walking back from the library at 2 a.m., it’ll all start with a stirring in your peripheral, then gradually a sudden rustling that cuts through the crisp midnight air. When you whip your head around to locate the source of the disturbance, you’ll find yourself eye-to-eye with one of the clans’ ringleaders. As if it were one of the anthropomorphic war heroes from Watership Down, the frontman of the troupe will eye you from across the plain, challenging you to take a step closer. When you do, it’ll stretch its spindly limbs and leap away, weaving through minefields of sprinklers, only for you to realize that there are seven more of them creeping behind the first.

2. Caterpillars

These creepy crawlers generally make their appearances during the first few weeks of spring quarter. They swing from the low hanging branches of trees with invisible threads that operate like “Mission Impossible” grappling hooks. You might be walking to the gym one lovely day, and while glancing down to check your phone, step right into one of their perfectly laid out traps. The dangling culprit will strike you right in the face, and should you have the audacity to let out a shriek, it may very well fly into the open cavity of your mouth.

In other sightings, many have reported the hairy menaces wriggling across outdoor chairs and benches. If you find one inching across your arm or leg, beware of their most lethal weapon: the impending Caterpillar Rashes. Vaden Health Center receives a devastatingly high rate of itchy undergraduate patients during the annual caterpillar reign, as the victims roll in with bumpy rashes from contact with what many call “caterpillar venom.”

3. Larry the Coupa Squirrel

Rumor has it that the Coupa Café at Meyer Green is frequently terrorized by one particularly aggressive snack fiend, commonly known as “Larry the Coupa Squirrel.” This bushy-tailed wonder is known to leap onto the cafe counter and the tables of innocent patrons in a foolish attempt to steal any particularly accessible food items. Many advise to keep your lids on and take-out boxes closed when visiting the Café.

4. Black squirrels

As if Larry the Hairy Hazard weren’t enough of a problem, his mischievous furry acquaintances are also a source of constant havoc. These creatures have all the leaping, twitching, climbing capacities of a normal squirrel, except they’re marked by a threatening shade of shiver-inducing black fur. Is that a misfortune-wreaking black cat crossing the road? No, it’s a (potentially worse) slithering black squirrel, here to hop out from behind trees and dart past the front wheels of your bike, spiking your heart rate when you least expect it.

5. Visiting canines

These innocent pups, sometimes adorned with Stanford-logo bandanas around their necks, are the loyal companions of many a wandering tourist or Palo Alto local who decides to go for a walk around the university campus. Be careful, however: Though their adorable toothy smiles and wagging tails are cute and friendly additions to campus life, many students describe a sudden pain in their hearts as they reflect on how much they miss the cuddles and slobbers of their own dogs from home.

 

Contact Clara Spars at cspars ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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