Two summers ago the neighbour’s soffits had a few squirrel nests in them. At the peak of his roof, as you can see in this picture, the squirrels pried the sheet metal open to make an opening. (In this photo, taken this year, the opening has since been sealed with mesh, but back then it was open. Click on the picture to enlarge it.).
There were a few squirrels nesting in there using various openings, but in this one a mother squirrel raised a litter of three.
An adult grey squirrel can jump eight feet horizontally from a standing stop, even more with a running start, so since the roofs are about 10 feet apart this presented no problem for the mother.
Her usual way to get into her nest would be to climb onto our roof, which is easier to access than the neighbour’s, and then to jump the gap from our roof to the neighbour’s. Then she would squeeze her way into the opening to spend the night with her babies.
Eventually when her babies got old enough they started to venture out of the nest. At first they stayed pretty close and we could see them sunning themselves and playing on the neighbour’s roof during the day.
The problem started when they climbed all the way down to the ground.
One evening, I was in the garage cleaning up when I noticed the mother on the neighbour’s roof just above the nest opening. The babies were on our roof. They wanted to go to their mother, but seemed scared to jump.
Finally one of the black baby squirrels tried to jump, came up short, hit the neighbour’s brick wall bounced off and fell 30 feet to land on the cement with a sickening splat.
I grabbed it before it could get away and put it in a plastic container. It was bleeding from the nose and disoriented.
I ran into the garage and found some old cushions and spread them out on the cement below the nest.
The other squirrels tried and were luckier. One landed on a lower section of the neighbour’s roof unhurt and made it home. I’m not sure what happened to the third one, maybe it spent the night on our roof.
I put the injured baby in the garage for the night with a heat lamp to keep him warm. The next day he seemed fine so I released him near the back fence, a spot I know his mother would pass eventually, and she found him later in the day.
The next evening though the same drama started to unfold.
I spread out cushions again. Some baby squirrels tried to jump, came up short landed on the cushions, then went on to hide for the night below our deck (which is dangerous considering how many raccoons are in the area). Others made it to the lower part of the neighbour’s roof and got home safely.
On the third day I came up with the idea of building them a bridge. I used two long pieces of bamboo I had lying around in the garage and taped them together to create a 12 foot pole.
I stuck one end of the pole into the opening in the neighbour’s soffits, and jammed the other end under one of the roof vents on my roof. The squirrels now had a solid bridge between both houses.
I waited by the garage that night until the squirrels showed up.
The mother sniffed the unfamiliar bamboo pole for a second, seemed to shrug and accept it, then used it to scamper across to the neighbour’s roof. She then looked back at her babies, and one by one, they walked along the pole to safety.
They were still sketchy, and one of them lost its balance, and had to finish the crossing hand over hand along the underside of the pole but all of them made it across safely.
For the rest of the entire summer we left the pole there, and in the evenings we would sometimes hear it rattle as the squirrels, now fully confident in their abilities, ran across it to go home for the night.
Charming story. I’m going to make a bridge (much smaller in scale) from a tree to my birdbath so thy can easily access fresh water. Love your story and ingenuity in helping the babies out! My heart would have stopped at hearing the crash of a baby onto the concrete below.
It amazed me that that baby squirrel survived that fall.
In fact the next day it seemed completely fine.
They are very resilient creatures.