Garter snake
Hundreds of snakes infested an Idaho home. Image: benet2006/Flicker/CC BY

Ben and Amber Sessions thought they were getting a bargain when they bought their five-bedroom home in rural Rexburg, Idaho, for less than $180,0000. But their dream home turned out to be a nightmare. The house was infested with hundreds of snakes.

Snakes in a house

The Sessions bought the home in 2009, thinking it would be a wonderful place to raise their two young sons. Then the snakes came — so many that at times the ground seemed to be moving, and the sounds of slithering in the walls kept them awake at night. Their story was featured on Animal Planet’s “Infested” series. The garter snakes themselves were harmless, but their sheer number made life a nightmare.

“It was like living in one of those horror movies,” said Ben Sessions, 31. One day, after killing 42 snakes, he’d had enough. “They won,” he said.

Not the first sent packing

The Sessions left the home after three months. Because they had signed a document that mentioned the snake problem, they had little recourse. The realtor, Sessions claimed, had assured them that the snake issue was a lie the previous owners, the Arns (see video below), had told when they defaulted on their mortgage.

Home not currently on the market

The snake-infested property has subsequently been taken off the market. A spokesperson for the realty company says a professional was hired to trap and relocate the snakes.

Built on a snake den

Rob Cavallaro, a wildlife biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said the home was likely built on a hibernaculum, a den where snakes gather to hibernate for the winter. When the weather warmed up, the snakes awakened and left the den.

“It is an important site for the snakes,” Cavallaro said. “Every now and then we build on them, and it becomes a conflict.” Cavallaro says he has heard of only one other Idaho home built on a snake den. He also recounted a bridge-widening project in which workers uncovered a hibernaculum.

Other infestations

Early this month J. Anne Mize of Savannah, Ga., alerted authorities of an inordinate amount of poisonous copperhead snakes in  in her back yard. That infestation turned out to be the result of a mini-food chain behind her shed. Cockroaches were feeding off rotting wood there, and lizards and other small predators ate the roaches, and the snakes went after them.

Last August in Corsicana, Texas, Tony and Lynn Gatlin also found their yard overrun with dozens of copperhead snakes. Andy Gluesenkamp, a herpetologist with the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, said it is an unusual but not unheard of problem.  “We know of reliable reports of copperheads being very abundant for short amounts of time, of them up in trees, feasting on cicada, or locust blooms,” he said.

Dealing with snake infestations

Experts say that dabbing a little kerosene around the area of infestation will keep most snakes away. However, professional help is advised when dealing with any poisonous species.



NY Daily News:

Coastal Source:

Norman Transcript:

Previous owners, the Arns, at the ‘snake house’

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