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California Python Breeder Pleads Guilty To Misdemeanor Animal Abuse

School teacher apparently became distraught after death of his mother and neglected his snakes.

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A tragic situation has seemingly come to an end as a former python breeder and school teacher was sentenced yesterday in an Orange County, Calif. courthouse. Kudos goes out to the herp community of Southern California that immediately stepped up when these snakes were found in distress in the man’s home.

William Buchman, the 53-year old school teacher from Santa Ana, Calif., who was arrested in January on felony animal cruelty charges for neglecting hundreds of ball pythons, pleaded guilty to a single count of misdemeanor animal abuse. He was sentenced July 10 to three years of formal probation, 100 hours of community service, and must attend and complete a 16-week animal neglect prevention program. He must also attend one year of psychological counseling and is prohibited from owning, possessing, living with or otherwise caring for any animal for a period of five years.


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Buchman paid $17,000 in restitution to the veterinarians who cared for his snakes and also donated $25,000 worth of reptile cages he used to house the ball pythons to Rockabirdie Reptiles in Santa Ana.

According to the Orange County Register, Buchman kept 422 ball pythons in his home and failed to care for them. When neighbors complained of a smell emanating from his property, police searched his home and found 240 dead pythons and 182 pythons in poor health.

Buchman, who taught sixth grade at Mariners Elementary School in Newport Beach was active in the reptile community but apparently experienced psychological issues after the death of his mother in 2011, according to county animal services officials.

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John B. Virata keeps a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata