'Snake House': Family Home in Idaho Turns Out to Be 'Satan's Lair' of Serpents

Picture perfect house in Idaho overrun by slithering snakes.

ByABC News
June 15, 2011, 8:25 PM

June 16, 2011— -- Even in this economy, a picture-perfect five bedroom rural home that lists for just over a $100,000 might seem like a real deal. Except for the fact this home is known by locals in Rexburg, Idaho as the "snake house" because it apparently sits on a nest of non-poisonous garter snakes.

The home has had a fraught history of owners leaving in haste. Now owned by Chase bank, it was on the market briefly in January and then taken off again.

In September 2009, it seemed like the ideal home for the growing Sessions family. Ben and Amber Sessions got it for what seemed like a steal, paying less than $180,000. But soon after moving in, they looked around and saw the snakes slithering all around the property.

"After we moved in, it was really horrible," Amber Sessions told ABC News. "There were snakes in the walls. We could hear them and then our water tasted like how they smell."

Sessions said they trusted their real estate agent, who, she claimed, told them the snake problem was "made up" by the previous owners so that they could leave their mortgage behind. He assured them that every precaution was made to keep the snakes away, she said.

The Sessions' signed paperwork acknowledging the stories about snakes when they bought the house, based upon the assurances the stories were false, The Associated Press reported.

But shortly after they moved in, Amber Sessions saw eight snakes in one day. She texted her agent, she said, and he told her he was going to help them take care of it with traps.

The problem just kept getting worse and three months after they moved in, Amber Sessions, who was pregnant at the time, had enough of what seemed like the serpent house of horrors. She said she got so scared about coming across a surprise snake in the house that she was worried she would miscarry.

"One day, we caught 43 snakes in total and that was it. The next morning I almost stepped on one in our house and I had enough, we can't do this anymore," she told ABC News. "I don't know how we stayed there as long as we did.

"It felt like we were living in Satan's lair," she told the AP in a separate interview. "That's the only way to really explain it."

The Sessions' abandoned the home in December 2009, a day after their daughter was born and three months after they moved in. But because they had signed paperwork acknowledging the snakes, according to AP, the couple also felt compelled to file for bankruptcy.

"We're not going to pay for a house full of snakes," Ben Sessions told the AP.

Neal and Denise Ard owned the home before the Sessions' did. In 2006, they invited a news crew to shoot the piles of snakes they found in the house. The video on YouTube showing buckets all over the house spilling over with snakes now has more than 2.5 million hits.

Eventually, the Ards abandoned the home and tried to sue the real estate agent. Their lawsuit was eventually dismissed.

The stress has taken a toll on the Sessions family -- with Ben Sessions even diagnosed with snake-related post-traumatic stress disorder, Amber Sessions said.

At the height of the infestation problem, she added, her husband and her sons would go out and kill the snakes that were trying to get into the house.

Rob Cavallaro, a wildlife biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, told the AP the home may have been built on a den where the snakes gather in large numbers to hibernate in the winter.

Real estate experts say the Sessions' story is a hard-learned lesson in the importance of due diligence when searching for your dream home.

"This is a buyer beware nation," New York City broker Brian Lewis told ABC News. "You have to do your research because if you don't do your research, you end up with a house full of snakes."

Calls to Chase bank were not returned.