How a Stanford bat broke into my dorm room

Movies made us believe that Narnia was a mythical land inhabited by Jack Harlow lookalikes and talking lions, but did you know that Stanford’s Narnia dorm was once besieged by a bevy of frogs? 

According to Isaac Cazares ’23 M.S. ’24, Narnia was not hopping with magic last spring, but with frogs. “There [were] a bunch of frogs around the entrance and exits,” he said.

Cazares estimated the frogs to number between 20 to 30 on any given day. Residents would have to “shine [their] phone light at night to avoid stepping on them,” though despite these formidable numbers, Cazares didn’t hear a single “ribbit.”

Overall, Cazares was amused by the amphibians. “As a city dweller, it made me feel quite happy to see frogs in the wild,” he reflected. According to him, the frogs eventually withdrew from the pavement and retreated into the cracks.

Earlier that summer, Cazares was chased by one of Stanford’s very own masked bandits. He was strolling by Escondido Village Studio 2 at midnight when he observed a large raccoon scaling a tree.

“I was intrigued because the raccoon was big, so I went to investigate and pulled out my phone to take a picture,” Cazares said. According to him, as he neared the tree, the raccoon “climbed down the tree and just started chasing me.” 

In hot pursuit, Cazares claims he had to run across the street and the Escondido roundabout. “I attempted to come back to see if he was still chasing me and he still was,” Cazares said. 

Being tailed by the raccoon left Cazares feeling “scared” and he learned his lesson about taking photos. Going forward, “I’m not going to go near them,” he said.

Narnia was not the only residence spared by an animal visitor. During Resident Assistant training this past September, Nathalie del Valle ’25 received a warm welcome from a flying critter in her West Campus dorm. “I was walking down the hallway and I heard a screeching noise,” she said. 

No sooner had she pondered, “Oh, this is weird,” when a brownish-colored bat swooped down the hall toward her, causing her to dive into her room.

According to del Valle, that wasn’t the end of the bat. “Like two days later, people on the first floor saw the bat crawling under people’s rooms,” she said, trespassing into rooms on both the first and third floors. 

Del Valle reported that although the bat “looked like a little mouse” as it scurried along the floor, it seemed to be two feet long as it flew.

At last, pest control arrived and escorted the straggler out. Although the incident left her feeling “very frustrated and unsafe,” del Valle was relieved that residents had not moved in yet. “If there were residents, it would have been ridiculous.”

Stanford students are not even immune to wildlife encounters on the water. In 2022, one of Sean Sewell ’23 M.S. ’24’s surf days at Venice Beach was cut short by a sting. While close to shore, he fell off his board. 

“I stepped on something and felt it move. It felt like a pinch,” Sewell said. 

Nevertheless, he persisted. “I just assumed it was a really strong crab and I kept surfing,” he said.

Sewell’s foot kept streaming blood so he decided to consult a lifeguard, who diagnosed the injury as one gifted by a stingray. Sewell was then sent limping away to the “main lifeguard hut” for treatment. 

“I did step on another stingray later but that one didn’t sting me,” he remarked.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous animal on campus, the squirrel, has also been subjected to adverse situations. Amy Zhou ’23 M.S. ’24, a fierce champion for squirrels’ rights, was alarmed at the sight of a sorry squirrel last year. When visiting a friend’s dorm, she noticed a seemingly normal black squirrel — barring its lack of a tail. According to Zhou, “[the squirrel] seemed okay.” 

Around a week later, she strolled by the Law School whereupon she “found the tail on the ground.” Zhou said she “felt grossed out but angry if a predator was the one to sever the tail.” 

Zhou has a love for raccoons and when I informed her my first animal story interviewee had a raccoon break into his room, she reflected, “I wish that were me. I want a friend raccoon.”

This is the fifth collection of animal interaction stories, and even as my time at Stanford winds to a close, there seems to be no shortage of content. These stories reveal that although we all come from different places and pursue different majors, there is something that binds us together — the animal within (and around) us.