An Orange County elementary school teacher who was arrested in January for hoarding more than 400 mostly dead snakes in his home pleaded guilty on Thursday to failing to care for the animals.
Police searched the home of William Fredrick Buchman, a sixth grade teacher at Mariners Elementary School in Newport Beach, after being notified of a dead animal smell coming from the house.
Authorities found 240 dead and 182 living ball pythons in the home, which smelled "God-awful," Santa Ana police said. Of the living snakes, 20 died after being found.
The house was also infested with rats and mice that had not been fed and were cannibalizing each other, officials said.
After pleading guilty, Buchman was ordered to do 100 hours of community service and attend a 16-session animal cruelty class. He also cannot own or live with pets for five years.
Buchman paid about $17,000 to Southern California Herpetology Association and Rescue, which disposed of the dead snakes and rescued the living ones.
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According to Buchman's attorney Paul Meyer, the neglect of the snakes stemmed from Buchman's grief over his mother, who died three years ago.
"The depression paralyzed him and he tragically neglected the reptiles which had been a family hobby," Meyer told City News Service, adding that Buchman, who is on leave from the elementary school, has donated his reptile cages to a rescue organization.