Instead it was 404 snakes -- more than half of them dead -- that were packed inside the five-bedroom house. There were also scores of rats that scampered over furniture when officers first entered the home.
Authorities were called to the home Wednesday and spent nearly the whole day there. Buchman, identified as a snake breeder, was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty.
Sondra Berg, a Santa Ana Police Department animal services supervisor, said there was no evidence of food or water in any of the cages holding what were mostly ball pythons.
Four of the bedrooms were filled with racks that each held 30 to 40 snakes, she said. The surviving pythons will be treated by veterinarians and then given away, officials said.
One specialist said the surviving pythons from the home were worth at least $100,000.
"It's pretty sad. Hoarding is pretty much a mental condition," she said. "They need help."