New Orleans Bayou Creature: The Rougarou

October 15, 2019

Travel deep within the boggy terrain of the Louisiana bayous to discover a legendary, supernatural, creature. Yes, we’re talking about the Rougarou! Tales of this mysterious creature are especially popular during the spooky Halloween season.

What Actually Is A Rougarou?

When a human is cursed with lycanthropy—or a human who transforms into a wolf—they become a Rougarou. However, there are different beliefs regarding how the curse transfers. One version states that a human who gets bitten by a Rougarou will remain in the Rougarou form for 101 days. Within that period, the beast must draw another human’s blood in order to pass it on and rid themselves of the curse. 

Conversely, another version believes that a person with the curse will not transform into its form until it consumes human flesh. And finally, some old beliefs state that the Rougarou curse can only be passed by a witch. The witch will either become the beast herself to pass the curse by biting another human or cast a lycanthropy spell upon another human. The person who receives the curse would not be able to pass on the curse because only the witch has that power. 

We are unsure as to whether the cursed will become permanently transformed, has the ability to change upon will, or is forced into transformation during a full moon. As is the norm with traditional legends, these stories of origin and behavior often contradict another. 

No matter what the correct version is, though, one does not want to be caught in the path of a Rougarou! A domineering, dark-haired, long-fanged beast with bright red eyes and— much like the werewolf—has the head of a rabid wolf and the body of a man. Worst of all, the swamp monster is believed to have a strong taste for human flesh!

The Beginnings Of Cajun Folklore

Tales of our swamp legend are connected to Francophone cultures. The Rougarou itself is actually the Acadian variation of the name. The French are believed to have originally called it the Loup-Garou, Loup being the French word for “wolf” and Garou being the derivative of the English “werewolf.” As the French settled the new world, Rougarou became the typical name for the monster in the Louisiana bayou. 

Folktales are usually passed on as cautionary tales. Specifically, French Catholic (and eventually Cajun) parents used Rougarou to scare their children into behaving—the monster would eat them if they did not follow the rules during Lent! Most likely, the original intention was to prevent the children from playing in the swamp, where predatory animals dwell, and they later applied it to religious teachings.

Will you spot the Rougarou next?

Explore The Bayou With Us

Much like gumbo—a traditional Cajun dish—Louisiana culture is a pot full of spicy and strange ingredients! If you’d like to learn more about our unique culture on a journey through our beautiful bayous, visit us at the Adventures Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours! You can book your reservation online or call us at 504-323-0570.