Strange-But-True: Into the Snake Pit

The Sessions' thought the 5-bedroom house on nearly two acres would be their dream home. Little did they know, the home’s current reptilian residents had other plans.

They slithered behind the walls at night and released foul-smelling musk into the drinking water. And they were so numerous that Ben Sessions once killed 42 in a single day.

Shortly after buying their dream home, Sessions and his wife discovered it was infested with thousands of garter snakes. For the next three months, their growing family lived as if in a horror movie. More than a year after they abandoned the property, the home briefly went back on the market, and they fear it could someday attract another unsuspecting buyer.

garter_snake_400That's when they realized their home was probably sitting atop a hibernaculum, a place where snakes gather in large numbers to hibernate over the fall and winter. 

There had been warning. When they bought the house, a document the couple signed had noted a snake infestation. That unscrupulous real estate agent assured the Sessions' that the snakes were just a story the previous owners invented to abandon their mortgage.

It turned out practically everyone in the tiny town of Rexburg, Idaho, knew the snakes were there. The property even had a nickname among the locals: The Snake House.

The Sessions left in December 2009, the day after their daughter was born and just three months after moving in. Because of the paperwork they had signed, the couple had little recourse but to flee. They filed for bankruptcy and the bank foreclosed.

Then astoundingly, the home briefly went back on the market in its current condition. After the Animal Planet network featured the Sessions' story in its "Infested" series, the listing was removed while the bank figures out what to do with it.

Unfortunately, this situation could have been avoided if the couple in this story would have followed up on the documentation they had received. Now friendly neighbors have been warning prospective buyers of the house's snake infestation, but most cases of problems properties aren't this notorious. Avoid this type of situation by not only reading all the documents regarding a home's history, but by paying the extra money for a qualified pre-sale home inspection that would have likely uncovered this problem. The extra layer of security it could offer is worth it.

Read the details of the horror story in the Star Tribune.

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