A Siesta Key resident discovered a surprising visitor to his home's dock on Jan. 16: a rare 12-foot python.
Resident Joe Volpe told us around 9:30 a.m. he received a call from a neighbor alerting him to a large reptile in the water by his dock.
When he went to investigate, he saw the body of a large python floating in the water with its head submerged.
"I thought maybe he was dead," Volpe explained. "I really wasn't sure, so I finally hauled him out using my pool pole."
But he only realized the magnitude of the situation when he placed the snake down by the dock. It stretched to more than 4 yards and weighed about 80 pounds.
Then it started to move, and Volpe put it into a closed container before calling a wildlife rescue expert for help.
"This type of python, they're very very nasty," Volpe said. "And, of course, [the wildlife expert] showed me the mouth, with all the teeth in it, those needle-like teeth pointing backwards, and once they grab you, they don't let go."
Florida Fish and Wildlife officials say there's no evidence of this species of python — called "reticulated pythons" — living in the state, so it's likely a pet that either escaped or was released. In Florida, a special permit is required to own a reticulated python, and with that permit comes the requirement to notify FWC is one escapes.
Officials say there's no reports of any reticulated pythons missing, so the owner could face criminal charges.
"This snake is dangerous!" Volpe said. "I mean, it looks pretty and all that, but it could easily kill a child - it could kill a man!"
If you see a snake like this one or any other unfamiliar types, FWC asks you call their Exotic Species Hotline right away at 888-IVEGOT1. Include the exact location (GPS is great) and a photo to be used in identification of the animal.