Natalie DiBlasio, USA TODAY
Wildlife officials are expanding efforts to find and eradicate African rock pythons in Miami-Dade County after a 10-foot-snake strangled a 60-pound Siberian husky.
The python killed the dog, named Duke, in minutes.
The snake was killed and is being sent to the University of Florida for a necropsy, said Carli Segelson, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Last month, a rock python made headlines after killing two sleeping boys in Canada.
"Why worry? They don't belong here, and they are absolutely huge," said Kenneth Kyrsko, a herpetologist at the University of Florida. "These are 15-foot snakes over 150 pounds. Do you want one of those living in your backyard?"
There is a growing effort by the FWC and other agencies to find and get rid of the species.
Forty-one African pythons have been captured and killed in the area, Kyrsko said.
"They didn't float over here from Africa," Kyrsko said. "Someone had them as a pet and released them."
A big concern for wildlife officials is if the pythons begin to reproduce beyond the point where they can be controlled.
"They live right up against residential neighborhoods," Kyrsko said. "Anyone who is missing their dog or cat, it probably was eaten by an African rock python."
The African rock python is a little bit more aggressive than the Burmese python, which is well established in southern Florida.
"Most likely we will euthanize them all," Segelson said. "We don't relocate them, we don't make an effort to find a new home for them. They are non-native, and we want to remove them."
Segelson said the pythons pose a problem for citizens and native wildlife.
"Because they are not native, the other species are not equipped to deal with them," she says. "Florida has a lot of protected species, and these snakes can prey upon small animals, reptiles and birds."
In the Everglades, state and federal agencies have spent millions of dollars addressing threats posed by pythons, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says.
The Humane Society documents 17 people who have died in incidents in the USA related to the snakes since 1978, 12 of them since 1990. Snakes have also killed a number of pet cats, chickens and turkeys, a Humane Society report says.
"It's rare, but the deaths that we see are usually in the home from pet snakes that have escaped from their enclosure," said Craig Martin, chief of the Branch of Aquatic Invasive Species at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "There are very few instances of that happening in the wild to a human."