LAFAYETTE —J.N. Prather has prosecuted a few folks in his time that might be characterized as snakes, but the assistant district attorney found himself Friday dealing with a real serpent slithering through the hall on the sixth floor of Lafayette Parish Courthouse.

Prather recalled how he was summoned from his office Friday morning by frantic courthouse house employees who reported seeing a large snake near the elevator.

“They came to get me and, sure enough, there was a 5½-foot snake,” Prather said. “Being an old country boy, I can take care of the critters … The way we do that is whack it on the head.”

Prather said the dead snake, which appeared to be a nonvenomous “chicken snake,” was bagged and carried off by maintenance workers without incident.

He speculated that the snake might have worked its way up the stairwell to the sixth floor.

Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court Louis Perret said he had never heard a report of a snake in the building, at least “not on the ground.”

“You can rest assured that all the employees are opening up doors and cabinets very carefully,” Perret said Friday.