Is the Rougarou Real or Just a Part of Folklore?
Have you ever heard the term 'rougarou'?
If you have lived in South Louisiana for any amount of time, chances are that you have heard a reference made towards this creature at least once or twice.
Personally, my mother-in-law refers to the rougarou all the time, so I have heard about it but I have never really known what she was talking about until now.
So what is a rougarou?
This story is not unique to South Louisiana at all and actually seems to be from France. The story of the rougarou is also known as the loup garou, “loup” is French for wolf, and “garou” comes from the Frankish word “garulf” meaning wolf also. So you can see where people may have gotten the idea that the rougarou is a tall, terrifying, menacing, blood-thirsty creature who roams around the sugarcane fields and swamps.
So when the loup garou traveled down to South Louisiana with the Acadian people the name eventually evolved into rougarou. Now it has been noted in some folklore that this creature is not strictly a werewolf type animal. It is rumored that this creature, the rougarou, can shapeshift into any animal. Which makes the whole story a little bit more frightening.
This creature is not your typical werewolf and prefers to cause havoc by destroying property and passing curses onto others.
A Vermilionville informational pamphlet for children reads, "The legend says that when a person comes into contact with a loup-garou and sheds the blood of the beast, the loup-garou will then change to its human form and reveal its secret. The victim then becomes a loup-garou for 101 days. If the victim speaks of the encounter to anyone, it becomes a loup-garou. But if he remains quiet about it, he returns to its human form and continue on with its life. In the legends, the loup-garou is said to be someone the victim knows, such as a jealous former friend."
Just like so many creatures in stories, the rougarou will resume the human form when the sun comes up and the night comes to an end.
According to folklore there are ways to not become a rougarou. One can easily avoid becoming a rougarou by simply being on their best behavior. However, rougarous are not very smart creatures so one could simply place 13 small objects in front of their door or windows of their home. The rougarou can’t count past 12 so the items will distract the creature and they ultimately won’t be able to count all of the items. Causing the rougarou to get upset and leave the area around the home.
Not everyone is convinced that the rougarous even exist however, there are still people who believe they do exist and go out “hunting” for them. Now I don’t know if I believe all of the stories but it definitely is just that a good story to pass down to the younger generations.
And now that you know the folklore surrounding the rougarou you can go see a life-size rougarou at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.