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Fla. frets over breeding of 2 snake species

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. —Fears of a new "super snake" emerging in the Everglades grew this week during a hunt to track South Florida's invasive python population.

A three-day, state-coordinated hunt that started Tuesday had, by Wednesday, netted at least five African rock pythons — including a 14-foot-long female — in an area in Miami-Dade County.

Those findings add to concerns that the rock python is a new breeding population in the Everglades and not just the result of a few overgrown pets released into the wild, according to the South Florida Water Management District.

In addition, state environmental officials worry that the rock python could breed with the Burmese python, which already has an established foothold in the Everglades. That could lead to a new "super snake," said George Horne, the water district's deputy executive director.

In Africa, the rock python eats everything from goats to crocodiles. There have been cases of the snakes killing children.

"They are bigger and meaner than the Burmese python. It's not good news," said Deborah Drum, deputy director of the district's restoration sciences department.

"These are animals that are hot predators, and now there are two species to worry about," she said.

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