California teacher Bill Buchman was caught hoarding snakes, hundreds of them – many were found dead inside his home. Neighbors complained about the horrible smell stemming from the Mariners Elementary School sixth grade teacher’s home, prompting a search warrant being issued to search the Santa Ana home. Animal services found more than 400 snakes and rats dead and dying within the home. Starving live rats resorted to cannibalism and fed of their own dead in order to survive.
William Frederick Buchman was arrested on animal cruelty charges after shocked animal services workers and law enforcement officers carried the last of the surviving pythons and rats out of the California teacher’s home. Additional charges may be forthcoming, including operating a business without a license violation. A substitute has been scheduled to cover Buchman’s Mariners Elementary School classes until he “resolves his personal matter,” according to a Newport-Mesa Unified School District official.
The snake hoarding educator has lived in the area his entire life and reportedly moved into the home after his mother passed away three years ago. According to a student’s mother who requested Buchman as her child’s teacher, he once broke down and cried after his mother’s death. The woman, also an educator who volunteered to read to student’s in Buchman’s class, his mother was a “strong presence” in his life.
The Santa Ana police officer involved with the snake hoarding search said that the California teacher’s home smelled, “God-awful.” More than half of the 400 plus snakes were found dead and those that were still breathing were covered in mites and had not been fed in quite a long time. Veterinarians were called in to review the condition of the living snakes. “None of them have been really bad that I have seen so far,” veterinarian Tom Greek said.
Due to the massive decay inside the home animal services officers donned masks and specialized suits while in the teacher’s home.
Animal Services Officer Sondra Berg had this to say about the snake hoarding search:
“From skeletons to just dead in the last few days there were all forms of decay. 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 canabalizing each other.”
Four rooms of Bill Buchman’s home were stacked floor to ceiling with snake cages. Officers involved with the case sated that the teacher was breeding ball pythons to sell them. One animal rescuer deemed the massive hoarding recovery operation as simply “overwhelming.”
Southern California Herpetology Association and Rescue representative Jason Haywood said:
“Between the rack system, which is where the snaked lives, and the tubs, and the heat, and all the animals, live and deceased, I would put it someone close to about a half a million dollar operation. It becomes an addiction, and you can get overwhelmed very easy. It kind of looks like a couple years ago he had a family tragedy that got him overwhelmed, and here we are today.”
The snakes found inside Buchman’s home have been transported to a veterinary hospital where they will stay until they are well enough to move into new loving homes.
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