The smell was so strong that investigators had to run out and gasp for air, bad enough that normally poised reporters had to hold their nose and bad enough that most of the surrounding neighbor was gagging.
The animal service division of the Santa Ana, California police said it was a House of Horrors. The home was owned by William Buchman, an elementary school teacher.
Some of the dead snakes had been dead for months, while others had died just recently. Mice and rats were found throughout the home. There were mice and rats inside plastic storage bins that were cannibalizing one another.
Police arrested Buchman, who is 53, for neglect on caring of animals. He was arrested on Wednesday and released sometime Thursday.
Neighbors complained about the home five months prior, with some thinking a dead person was inside the home at the time.
A next door neighbor said his wife would throw up due to the foul odor. The neighbor said he and Buchman were once friends and watched sports on television, but the neighbor said Buchman’s mother died about two years ago and he was never the same.
Buchman has still not made a court appearance and has yet to be formally charged. The school department where he is employed declined to comment on his arrest.
Police on Tuesday served a warrant to search the house and found four of five bedrooms stacked from the floor to the ceiling and from one end of the room to the other with plastic bins on metal and wooden racks. The bins, said police, were packed so tight they did not require any lids.
In all, there were over 400 snakes, of which 220 were dead and 180 alive. Some snakes were covered in maggots and flies, while others were just skeletons.
The police said the animal services division had attempted to work with the teacher for a number of months after reports of odor by neighbors.
Police were told by Buchman he was involved in snake breeding known as morphing which is where owners attempt to breed the reptiles to get different color patterns on their skin.