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Florida Police Officers Capture 12-Foot Python

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Under a bright morning sun, police Sgt. John Holman worked to keep the roughly 120-pounder squirming on the ground beneath him under control.

And at nearly 12 feet long, this wasn't some pint-sized perp.

"It's solid muscle," Holman said Friday.

Earlier in the day, Port St. Lucie police went to the 600 block of Southeast Faith Terrace after getting reports from people of an extremely large snake that neighbors believe has been feasting on neighborhood cats.

Holman, who long has maintained an interest in reptiles and snakes, arrived and found a dead cat in an empty lot.

The veteran investigator went into waist-high brush and spotted the Burmese python.

Then he called for back-up.

The python, a nonvenomous constrictor, is native to South Asia and can grow in excess of 20 feet long, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They have been reported in South Florida since the 1980s, and are considered an ecosystem threat.

This particular one, Holman said, likely was someone's pet.

Master Sgt. Frank Sabol, police spokesman, said in his more than 22 years as an officer he has never encountered a snake that large.

Holman said at that size, the snake could pose a threat to small children as well as pets.

"Seeing something this big, stay away, you don't need to be messing with this unless you know about snakes, know about what they do, their habits," Holman said. "Call either animal control or the police department or (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)."

According to the FWC, Burmese pythons are no longer allowed as pets.

Properly licensed dealers, researchers and public exhibitors still can acquire them. Burmese pythons that were pets on or before July 1, 2010, can stay with the owners, who must have a license to keep them, according to the FWC.

Holman said he already has contacted people with permits, and that the snake, which he thought is a female, will go to a good home.

Copyright 2014 - Treasure Coast Newspapers, Stuart, Fla.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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