TODAY   |  January 26, 2013

Dangerous crocodile on the loose in Florida

Along a canal that leads to the Everglades, a two-man team is searching for a Nile crocodile that doesn’t belong in the wild. State officials believe the croc escaped a collector’s cage, and officials worry it may become a serious threat. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> in south africa the search is on for thousands of crocodiles. they escaped from a farm when floodings were opened during a raging flood. about 2,000 have been recaptured. as many as 13,000 are still on the loose.

>>> meantime in florida, there's just one croc that has hunters looking. as kerry sanders reports, this rare breed is very far from home , and it could become a man man-eater.

>> reporter: along the canal that leads to the everglades, a two-man team is launching for the hunt, searching for a nile crocodile that doesn't belong here.

>> one time i did see it. it was in this thick stuff here.

>> yeah.

>> then it went down, and i saw.

>> reporter: experts say it's easier to find the crocodile at night when's hit with a light, the eyes reflects back, red. just like this alligator's eyes. the nile crocodile is native to africa. its aggressive behavior on display during the great migration each year. nile crocodiles can grow to more than 20 feet and weigh in excess of 1,500 pounds.

>> i've never seen a nile crocodile in florida.

>> reporter: the nile croc on the sloos thankfully still small .

>> i believe this one's about the same size as the one that we're chasing now.

>> reporter: this is the brother to that nile croc that state officials believe escaped a collector's cage. the fear now -- nile crocs grow a foot a year. if it's not captured, it may become a serious threat.

>> as adults, nile crocodiles are known to be man-eaters. they're known to attack people.

>> reporter: another concern, will the nile crocs multiply like the burmese pythons have? biologists believe years ago people let their pet snakes loose, and now there are more than 100,000 out here. but scientists believe it's unlikely that a nile croc would mate with the saltwater crocodiles that live on the edge of the everglades. what about alligators? even in the lab nile crocs and alligators do not cross breed .

>> alligators are more along the lines of a couch potato compared to the nile crocodile which i would compare to an athlete.

>> reporter: finding this nile croc will be no easy task. there's but one somewhere out here in the 4,000 square miles of the florida everglades . for "today," kerry sanders , nbc news, miami.