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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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)
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 :-)
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
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
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
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.
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
-- 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.
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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