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Python Joyrides Around South Florida On Sailboat

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) - Police say a 7-foot-python looking for a joyride snuck onto a sailboat in the Florida Keys and ended up staying on board until the boat reached the state's southwest Gulf Coast.

The crew found the snake in the boat's shower after docking Friday in Marco Island on Southwest Florida's Gulf Coast after the trip from Indian Key.

Police quickly responded and transferred the invasive snake into the custody of a local wildlife handler, according to a news release.

The police department posted multiple photos of a uniformed officer grinning wildly on the boat with the python coiled multiple times around his arm.

In May, an "8-foot-long-plus" python was captured on a boat in Coral Gables, the Miami Herald reported.

Pythons believed to be descended from pets freed from captivity over past decades are now ravaging native species in parts of South Florida and overrunning the Everglades. The pythons, which can grow to 20 feet (6.1 meters) and 200 pounds (90 kilograms), are devouring native mammal and bird populations.

The U.S. Geological Survey says there is no evidence of pythons are swimming from the Everglades to the Keys, but they didn't rule it out entirely.

"Because pythons regularly escape or are released from captivity, it can be difficult to determine whether a snake encountered in the Keys arrived there by swimming from the mainland or was a former captive pet on the island," the agency has said in a statement.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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