Critter Conundrum

Here's the history: We live in the woods. We bought our house about 10 yrs ago, and at the time, it had been essentially vacant for about 2 years. consequently, there were some mouse issues (that's putting it mildly). After cleaning things up and sealing things up, we've been pretty much mouse free since then. I still trap mice in the garage, because I figure if I let them set up camp int there, it won't be long before they stage an invasion.
So I'm pretty familiar with mice, and the signs of a mouse infestation.
Here's the conundrum. Recently, we found several small caches of sunflower seeds hidden in various locations (at the bottom of a basket full of socks, in the corner of a square basket that we keep magazines in. at the bottom of an open box of curry powder in the pantry (the box is about twice the size of a deck of cards. it's old and the top is wide open, the curry powder is kept in a zip-lock bag inside the box). Over the summer, we were keeping the bird-feeders inside at night because of some raccoon issues, so access to the seeds would have been easy.
My wife says it must be mice, but the signs just don't seem right. No evidence of mouse poop anywhere! Seeds were all whole (none chewed). No boxes or anything else in the pantry shows any sign of being gnawed. No late-night sightings nor hearing the tell-tale pitter- patter of little feet.
Is this the work of a family of extremely fastidious and secretive mice, or is there another explanation?
Thanks.
-JJ
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Chipmunk.
    Una
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That is certainly rodent behavior. They were setting up shop to have babies. The question is how long has it been there?
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Do you have children?
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In typed:

Probably moles getting ready to build a nest. Have seen similar here - gave the cats the run of the garage and they provided me with several moles in "appreciation" as cats are prone to do<g>. Dead ones of course.
HTH,
Twayne`
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Chipmunks store food but they dont usualy come in your living space, Have you heard noises in the attic just after dark, ive had flying squirrels for years and can hear when they are going out for the evening, they also wont come into your living space but are not scared of you when they do. I had one on my fireplace mantel and I was able to walk right up to it, I finally got him outside but they came right back in the attic in a hole. A rat will go in your house.
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Prevention for the future, after you solve the problem: Learn about glass and hard plastic containers for spices & other foods. It's the newest, hottest thing in food storage nowadays. Get rid of shelf paper no matter how cutesy the Mrs thinks it is. Clean the bejeezus out of your cabinets.
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On 11/8/2010 6:15 PM, JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Good advice....hard plastic tubs for storing paper and soft goods in the garage,too. There is nothing for a mouse nest better than old blankets inside a nice dark box :o) Corrugated boxes are nice for termites and roaches. You might have brought in a critter when you brought in the feeders....that's a lot of trouble...he just stashed some seed and went back out in the bird feeder? Plant some trees or shrubs with berries and toss the dang feeders. I love having birds around, but it is rather odd that folks want to enjoy "nature" and then exclude all the natural critters that come to dine :o)
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Thanks for all the replies.
Plenty of squirrels and chipmunks outside, but I'm pretty sure this couldn't have been the work of one of them. We had a chipmunk in the house once, and it was pretty obvious. I guess I'll have to go with the mouse theory for now and hope the Mickey is long gone. This cacheing probably happened over the summer (2 months or more ago). I'll set a couple of traps in the house and see what happens. Whatever the critter was, it clearly was not interested in the spices, or any of the more delectable treats in the pantry (like pancake mix). Most of our more easily critter-accessible dry goods are actually in big tuppers in there - a holdover from when we first moved in - probably not a bad idea. Using a jar for spices - good idea! Yeah, most of our spices are in appropriate containers, but often it's easier to just keep things in the container they came in, as is the case with the spice in question.
We have no attic (all cathedral ceilings) so at least I don't have to worry about that as a critter haven. We used to have cats, but both passed away, and we're taking a breather (literally) from pets for a while - both my wife and I are allergic. We do have two young kids, and my first thought was that it might have been them - but the third cache was on the top shelf of the pantry, where even I need to stand on a stool to reach - so no chance they could have done it.
Bringing in the bird feeders at night was not much trouble - they are easily accessible from our deck. And it was definitely much less annoying than having my wife wake me up to inform me that raccoons were raising a ruckus on our deck and that I had to get up and chase them away :-)
Cheers.
-JJ
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99% of stuff in the supermarket's spice department comes in plastic, metal or glass containers. If you've somehow focused on the 1% which comes in soft containers, it means you WANTED trouble.
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wrote:

Hmm. Not sure why you are dwelling on this. I thought I made it clear that most of my spices are in appropriate containers, so I'm certainly not focused on those that come in soft containers because I "WANT" trouble.
This particular spice (in a bag inside a box) was a gift, hand- imported from India by some friends, so we hardly had a choice in packaging.
-JJ
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<stuff snipped>

<stuff snipped>
My guess is that you inadvertently brought in a mouse with one of the feeders and he started setting up housekeeping in anticipation of a mate that never arrived. The key, as Gfretwell noted, is to determine how long those caches have been there. Just the other day while cleaning up the basement I found several caches of pistachio nuts, some bearing the tell-tale perfectly round gnawed-off ends typical of a mouse rotating the nut around in its mouth as it chewed. There were red-dyed shells, a type that we haven't bought for years, though, so I knew it was an old cache.
With two little Jack Russells running around, the critters have found other houses to invade. If our younger one catches the scent of a mouse, she'll sit for hours where she last saw one. At first I thought she was crazy, staring at the wall or the kitchen door for the entire morning but the strategy usually works and it's not long before she's killed it. Unlike the cat I used to have, she doesn't play for a second. Neck bite, hard shake and it's over in a blink. Jacks have been known to dispatch more than 200 rats an hour in heavily infested barns and I know why. No effing around, just bite, shake and on to the next.
The absence of fresh droppings near the caches or elsewhere in the house leads me to believe your invader came in with the feeder long ago and died a lonely life behind your walls waiting for his Minnie to arrive. I'd set some traps - baited with sunflower seeds glued to the trap treadle with peanut butter.
I used to bring my house plants in from the porch when it got cold, but now I let them die after bringing in "the plague of houseflies." All winter long we were killing carbon copies of the same big black and iridescent green houseflies whose eggs had come in buried in the soil of one of the plants. This was even AFTER washing the plants with detergent and repotting them in microwaved-nuked soil knocked off the roots from repotting. Same thing happened at work when someone brought an egg-infested houseplant in. We had flies buzzing around for weeks. Rodents and insects are very able and experienced hitch-hikers.
-- Bobby G.
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Scatter caching is what squirrels and chipmunks do. Just like they bury nuts for the winter outdoors in lots of different places.
And they are clean animals; they generally don't poop all over the place. Chipmunks have burrows with special tunnels which they set aside as latrines.
-- Steven L.
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On Tue, 9 Nov 2010 01:58:57 +0000, "Steven L."

In my case is it was your garden variety roof rat. They had a small pile of dog food behind the fridge. We had been careful not to leave dog food around after the dog ate so they must have just been finding a loose piece now and then.
http://gfretwell.com/wildlife/rattus%20rattus.jpg
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Everyone seems to have given good advice already, but perhaps you need a cat. Even well fed cats love to clean out the critters in a house. Two cats is even better since they take care of each other. I just happen to know someone who has a surplus of kittens right now and would be happy to part with a few if you can give them a good home.
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JJ wrote the following:

Where did the sunflower seeds come from? Do you have sunflower seeds in the house or a sunflower plant outside?
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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He might want to store his seeds in a metal container,so the critters cannot chew through the container.
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
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