OXFORD, Florida (10Connects.com) -- A young girl was strangled to death by a 12-foot Burmese python in Sumter County, according to a report from sheriff's officials.
The incident occurred just after 10 a.m. at a residence in the 1500 block of County Road 466 in Oxford, about 60 miles northwest of Orlando.
In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Sumter Sheriffs identified the victim as 2-year-old Shaiunna Hare.
The girl's mother, 23-year-old Jaren Ashley Hare and her boyfriend were home at the time of the attack, and told investigators that the snake was bagged in an aquarium when they went to sleep last night.
Lt. Bobby Caruthers said the boyfriend, Charles Darnell, 32, told them when he awoke and went looking for the snake, he found it on top of the little girl. She had a bite mark to her forehead.
Darnell said he grabbed a knife and began stabbing the snake in an effort to get it off the child.
Two other children were visiting at the home overnight, but they were not hurt.
The couple owns a second snake, a 6-foot boa constrictor.
According to the Florida Wildlife Commission, pythons are a non-native species to Florida, although some Burmese Pythons have been found in parts of the state.
An invasion of giant Burmese pythons in South Florida that made national headlines last year was "rapidly expanding" and could reach Central Florida, according to a University of Florida study.
"There's no part of this state that you can point at and say that pythons couldn't live here," researcher Frank Mazzotti said. "They're capable of incredible movement -- and in a relatively short period."
Most of the pythons were brought over as pets and then turned loose in the wild, he said.