According to Cajun legend, deep in the Louisiana Swamp is the Rougarou — a large, werewolf-like half-man, half-beast creature who preys on people who venture too far into its terrain.
Photo (modified) by Angie Garrett/Flickr. Design by Lauren DeLuca for Yahoo Travel.
Regarding this legendary beast, History.com says, “The Cajun legend of the Rougarou can take on multiple forms. Originally derived from French stories of the ‘loup-garu,’ or ‘wolf man,’ the monster is most commonly described as a bayou-dwelling werewolf with glowing red eyes and razor-sharp teeth. The beast is usually said to be a cursed man who must shed another’s blood in order to break its spell and reassume human form, but the tale varies according to the teller. In some versions, the Rougarou can turn its victims just by locking eyes with them; in others, it takes the form of a dog or pig rather than a wolf. Still others paint it as a shape shifter that can assume different human and animal forms at will. Because it can switch its appearance so easily, some even conflate the creature with the legendary Skunk Ape of southeastern U.S. swamp lore. In most Louisiana parishes, the Rougarou myth is employed as a kind of cautionary tale. Children are told that the fiend will come for them if they don’t behave, and Catholics are warned that it hunts down those who break Lent.”
A rougarou on display at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. (Photo: praline3001/Flickr)
Since I was in that neck of the woods, I decided to try and see it for myself and check out another supposedly tall tale — the ginormous DinoGator, an alligator that measures up to 50 feet long. Think Lake Placid on steroids.
Ready for my monsters.
My pal Milton, who runs Louisiana Swamp Tours, took me out on an airboat to look for the Rougarou and the DinoGator, and, more realistically, to just check out the regular alligators that, randomly, have a fondness for marshmallows. (Don’t we all?)
Her name is Muffin. She’s a Leo and likes marshmallows, seafood, and small dogs. Supposedly, there’s another gator that roams these waters from the Dino Days that’s 50 times bigger than Muffin.
“I’ve never seen a Rougarou myself,” Milton said, but he claims to know people who have. Nor has he ever seen a Monster Gator, but “you never know.”
Then he and his son Justin pulled out a bag of marshmallows.
You don’t want to try this at home without Justin, a seasoned pro, nearby.
“What are those for?” I asked.
“For the gators,” Milton said. “They love ‘em — watch!”
He called out in Creole, “Come ‘n get it!” and within seconds, two gators appeared for their puffy snack.
“Is there, like, gator diabetes or anything?” I asked, watching as they gulped down marshmallow after marshmallow.
“Nope. It’s all good,” Milton said.
The alligators are protected for most of the year, except in September, which is a hunting month. However, many people who have the land permits are now shunning hunting for tourism.
“They’re worth more to us alive than they are dead,” Milton said, although he did acknowledge his wife has a fine alligator skin purse.
Somewhere out there my monsters are hiding…
We drove around for a few hours, feeding alligators and keeping an eye out for Rougarou scat, until the heat of the day forced us to go home.
These people are also looking for my monsters — to no avail.
While I didn’t see any monsters — admittedly, I wasn’t searching at midnight, but I’m an optimist — I know there’s a chance they could still be out there, and that’s good enough for me. For now, I’ll stick with the regular alligators, which are scary enough.
Had I gone rougarou-hunting at midnight, perhaps this would’ve been what I ran into instead. (Photo: iStock)
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