Workers in the Madison County Circuit Clerk's office have been watching their steps all day.

A four-foot black snake was spotted Monday night underneath a desk by a cleaning crew member and has not yet been captured.

Deputy Circuit Clerk Judy Nelson said it was discovered under a probate clerk's desk.

"The cleaning people called 911," Nelson said. "But no one came."

Nelson said she was also notified about the incident last night.

Several clerks said the snake story has been the "buzz" around the courthouse all day Tuesday, although some officials didn't know whether the story was true or a rumor.

Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth, who stopped by the office late in the afternoon, expressed discomfort after learning that, indeed, a snake was on the lam in the courthouse.

"I'm scared to death of snakes," he said.

Chief Judge Ann Callis said she heard about the report, but wasn't sure it was true.

"Let me know what you hear," she said.

Madison County Sheriff's deputies said they were prepared to do what was necessary to catch the reptile.

Deputy John Beswick said he has five or six large glue traps that can be set out after hours.

Missy Epps, the clerk who occupies the desk where the snake was observed, said she thought that was a "good idea."

She said she has also heard that spraying a snake with a fire extinguisher is an effective way of handling such a matter.

"The worst thing is not knowing where it is," Epps said.

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