California Snake House: Hundreds of Pythons Found; Man Charged

Thursday, 30 Jan 2014 02:38 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Fictional archeologist Indiana Jones would hate the man who was arrested Wednesday for having at least 300 snakes in his California home.

William Fredrick Buchman, a teacher at Mariners Elementary School in Newport Beach, Calif., was arrested after police and animal control officers searched his home and found 300 to 400 pythons, authorities told NBC Los Angeles.

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Most of the snakes were reportedly dead and the house is infested with rats and mice.

"There are all forms of decay," Sondra Berg, an animal services supervisor at the Santa Ana Police Department, told NBC Los Angeles. "From skeletons to just dead in the last few days. There is an infestation of rats and mice. They are running loose all over the house. There are rats and mice in plastic storage tubs that are actually cannibalizing each other."

Authorities believe Buchman was breeding ball pythons to sell them. Officials told the television station that the stacked snake cages packed the front four rooms of the home.

Buchman was charged with animal cruelty.

Neighbors first complained a year ago, when Buchman was first thought to be breeding snakes. The snakes were healthy at that time and animal services had no cause to seize the animals. In October, police and animal services were told of a "dead body smell" emanating from the home. A search warrant was obtained when Buchman refused to cooperate.

"This is a major case of neglect," Sam Makki, executive director of Reptile Rescue Orange County, told NBC Los Angeles. "It is all very sad. These snakes are completely harmless and make great pets, but it is clear that the owner hardly provided any care for them."

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