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Port St. Lucie, Florida -- Officers responding to a report of a large snake got the real thing Friday: A 12-foot python that neighbors said had been eating the area's cats.

About 7:20 a.m., Sgt. John Holman arrived on the scene and found a deceased cat in an empty lot, police said. Holman waded into waist high brush and spotted a Burmese python.

Holman called for backup officers to help him get the snake out of the brush. The snake weighed about 120 pounds.

Holman found a person with a Florida Fish and Wildlife license to house the snake.

Pythons are an invasive species in Florida, where researchers believe they are eating their way through populations of native mammals in the Everglades. No one knows exactly how many pythons there are here, but the population likely developed from pets released into the wild.

Florida now prohibits owning or selling pythons for use as pets, and federal law bans importation and interstate sale of the species.

More on Florida's invasive animals:

Pythons have their own homing system

New threat: Rock pythons

Python eggs hatching in South Florida

18-foot python caught in Florida

Report exotic species to FWC

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