Authorities issued a warning after fire rescue officials say a Siberian husky was killed by a python at a western Miami-Dade County home.
The incident happened about 10 p.m. on Aug. 30 at a home in the 3000 block of Southwest 147th Place.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said investigators saw a large python, identified as a northern African python, wrapped around the neck of the Siberian husky named Duke. The family called 911, but the dog died by the time help arrived. Police released the 911 call Thursday.
The 10-foot-long, 38-pound snake was captured and given to state wildlife officials, who euthanized it.
The snake had puncture wounds from where the dog bit it, but it was not known whether the snake saw the dog as prey or if the dog somehow provoked the reptile, said Capt. Jeff Fob of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's Venom One unit, which responds to snake-related emergencies.
"It was a healthy dog, a dog that we consider capable of defending itself. It just maybe bit off more than it could chew when it got too near the snake," he said.
"I cried when I saw the story. It was so sad," said Nicole Cardona.
Cardona often walks her three dogs in the same neighborhood.
"I will be a lot more careful now," she said, adding that she was unaware problem with pythons in the neighborhood.
State and local authorities canvassed the neighborhood on the edge of the Everglades, hoping to find more northern African pythons and distributing flyers to help residents distinguish the snakes from Burmese pythons. Also known as rock pythons, the northern African pythons were first spotted in 2002.
Since 2009, officials have recovered 27 pythons from the Bird Drive Basin in southwestern Miami-Dade County, an area defined as south of Tamiami Trail, north of Bird Road, east of Krome Avenue, and west of Southwest 137th Avenue. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman George Pino said 26 of the 27 were found in a six-mile area.
Rock pythons are far outnumbered by Burmese pythons, but they tend to be a little meaner, Fobb said.
"They might bite a little more. I would say their disposition is a little worse than the Burmese python," he said.
Though estimates for Florida's Burmese python population varies from 10,000 to 100,000 snakes, just 68 were found during a month-long hunt.
Florida prohibits the sale of Burmese and rock pythons for use as pets. Federal law bans the importation and interstate sale of both species.
Both snakes can grow to impressive lengths and neither has natural predators in Florida. Each species has a splotchy, irregular pattern to its scales, though rock pythons are darker in color.
The conservation commission encourages to report sightings of northern African pythons and other exotic species to a hotline, www.IVEGOT1.org.