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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The hunt for an elusive python is on in west Miami-Dade County, where wildlife experts said they are racing against the clock to find the Northern African python before it invades the Everglades.

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About ten feet long, the Northern African Python is on the loose in West Miami-Dade.

“They were probably an escaped or released pet,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) Biologist, Jenny Ketterlin Eckles.

Ketterlin Eckles showed CBS4’s MaryAnn Martinez the Northern African python next to its near relative, the Burmese python. Neither are native to Florida. That’s what makes them so dangerous.

“Similar to Burmese pythons, Northern African pythons grow to be a large size and they can pray upon our native wildlife spices,” said Eckles.

CLICK HERE To Watch MaryAnn Martinez’s Report 

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FWC believes the Northern African python is eating ducks and rats in west Miami-Dade County.Pets could be next if the snakes start moving closer to homes.

“We have found a good number in the surrounding neighborhoods, either in the canals or natural areas next to houses,” said Eckles.

The Northern African pythons are so elusive, FWC said it can’t put a number on how many are on the loose. Only one was found last year. Since 2001, 29 have been found.

FWC said it is adding resources to get them and creating a new position called a python hunter. Edward Mercer was hired just to track them down.

“We believe the worst case scenario would be their population here would grow so large they would start to move out into the Everglades,” said Eckles.

Thursday’s hunt turned up empty, but FWC said they’ll continue searching.

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