MOORHEAD (AP) — A Dilworth man has admitted allowing 32 snakes to freeze to death in an unheated storage unit last winter.

Fifty-year-old Henry Atherton pleaded guilty Thursday to one felony and two misdemeanor counts of mistreatment of animals.

Atherton had moved from Florida to Dilworth last summer. He said in court he "just couldn't find a place" for the snakes. He testified that he didn't intend for his snakes to die.

Atherton says he put the 32 ball pythons in containers and was keeping them in the Glyndon storage unit until he could find homes for them.

Authorities discovered the dead snakes last January after someone reported a rotten odor. Atherton says he had planned to bury the snakes in the spring.

Sentencing is set for July 9.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.