William Buchman, 53, was arrested on an animal cruelty charge, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Neighbors said the smell from his house in Santa Ana had become unbearable. Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said he could smell something "like death" standing 200 to 300 feet away.
Animal control officers estimated the number of snakes at more than 350. By late afternoon, they had searched only one room.
A neighbor, Forest Long Sr., said Buchman had shared the house with his mother, who had also been a teacher. He said the mother's death a few years ago appeared to have an effect on him.
"We didn't see him much," Long said. "Maybe he became lonely."