Cryptid Casefile: The Rougarou
Type: Hybrid / Lycanthrope
Appearance: 7-10ft tall • Human body • Dogs head • reddish-brown fur red glowing eyes
Location: Louisiana / Bayou Region, USA
Abilities: Therienthropy, speed, agility, curse manipulation
Enter the world of the Cajun werewolf. This complex oral tradition of the swamps of Louisiana find its origins long ago in Medieval France. Fantastic tales of men who change into wolf-like beasts permeated this Middle Age culture and as the New World was settled, stories of these creatures came along too. The story of the Rougarou sounds like it’s simple, but in actuality it's an interwoven labyrinth of different tales and legends that have been passed down throughout generations.
According to legend, there is a cursed and foul beast to be found within the murky swamps of Louisiana. This dangerous creature is driven by the motive to draw human blood. This blood it would seem, is the only thing that can release it from its curse. The legend of the Rougarou is rather convoluted due to centuries of changing and warping oral traditions. Starting off with the etymology, the word 'Rougarou' is derived from the french phrase, 'Loup-Garou,' which translates into "a man who transforms into a wolf."
With a towering height of 7-10 feet, This werewolf-like cryptid is primarily classified as a shapeshifter. As stated previously, stories of this beast date back many centuries and were brought with the peoples who settled Louisiana and remain a prominent facet of cajun folklore today. These legends have been traced back to French-Canadian peoples and even further back to France itself, passed down generation after generation.
It is largely believed that legends of shapeshifting lycanthropic creatures date back to at least the Medieval Era and possibly further if we look at other legends of hybrid human/beast like beings throughout history like an ancient Egypt. Interestingly, some early descriptions of these types of beasts paint them as more victims of a genetic disorder, rather than just monsters. unlike other legends where people "catch" the condition or are cursed by a witch, the unlucky person lives a regular life until something triggers the transformation. It is thought that stories of these type of creatures became prevalent as a warning to keep children away from the woods or to keep ill-behaved Catholics in line.
If you were wondering, yes this cryptid sounds very similar to your classic Werewolf, but make no mistake, there are some key differences between them. Unlike the werewolf, the Rougarou is said to have the ability to turn from man to beast at will and thus has no need to wait for a full moon to transform. This cursed beast is described as more muscular and powerful as well, largely due to it spending most of its time in the rugged swamps of the Louisiana Bayou. While a Werewolf's body is typically known to be wolf-like, according to cajun lore, this swamp-dweller retains its human body, only transforming its head to be that of a wolf with its signature red glowing eyes.
As far as similarities to a Werewolf, the legends state that if you get bitten by a Rougarou, you will also become one. In another version of the legend, merely staring into its red eyes is enough to pass on the curse to someone else. Additionally, it was believed that using witchcraft to place a curse on someone could result in the creation of a Rougarou. An unfortunate soul then has to endure 101 days living with the curse with an insatiable hunger for meat, unless they draw human blood first. If successful, they transfer the curse to their victim.
It turns out there are a multitude of ways that one can become a Rougarou. According to local stories from Louisiana, Rougarou's are known to stalk city streets at night, antagonizing people to attack them. Once blood is drawn, the beast will revert to its human form. Alternatively, it's human form retains injuries, so if it shows up in town the next day, say with a wound on its face or arm, townsfolk could identify it easily and take care of the threat. One more strange detail about this creature is that If a Rougarou is attacked and manages to transforms back into their human state, they have to tell their attacker who and what they really are. As a consequence, if the attacker tells anyone of the encounter within a year and a day, they will become cursed and become a Rougarou themselves. If they manage to keep the secret for that span of time, the curse will be lifted. According to another story of how Rougarou's come to be, we turn back to those misbehaving Catholics. This story says that if a Catholic breaks their lent for seven years in a row they will turn into a Rougarou, perhaps as some form of penance.
Fun Fact: According to legend, you can protect yourself against a Rougarou by laying 13 small objects or charms by the doors at your home. Funnily enough, it seems that Rougarou's aren't very good at math and don't remember how to count past the number 12. Ultimately when a Rougarou arrived at someones door, It would see the 13 objects and inexplicably try to count them. This act would confuse the creature and it would keep trying to count the objects until the Sun came up. When it does, the Rougarou would flee the scene, leaving the homeowner safe and sound.
As far as sightings go in modern times, some cattle mutilations that have been reported in the Bayou area that have been attributed to the Rougarou. Some believe however, that certain mutilations are more typical of a Chupacabra attack. In the past locals have also ascribed eccentric neighbors in the woods as being an infernal Rougarou, so perhaps this cryptid is real after all, and it's just a dark side of humanity.
In Nicholls University's college paper, the Nicholls Worth, a Rougarou encounter was recounted by a local woman. Her story went as follows: a local boy was being followed by a dog. To get it to stop following him, the boy decided to attack it with his pocketknife and wound up cutting one of its legs to make it go away. Suddenly this dog transformed into a man right before the boys eyes. The terrified boy then ran home to tell his family. The woman Informed the paper, "The next day a prominent physician appeared in town with his right arm cut and in a sling. I remember when the physician shot himself here in Lockport. A year later the boy killed himself and left a letter that the family turned over to the Sheriff. Even today he refuses to let anyone see it."
The Rougarou has also been connected to the story of the Deridder Roadkill. IN 1996, Barbara
Mullins was driving down Highway 12 in Louisiana when she came upon the site of a big, dead animal on the side of the road. Barbara had a camera on her and decided to pull over since whatever the creature was looked strange. What she found and documented was described as the size of a full grown Saint Bernard dog with thick brown hair. Reportedly this feature was unusual for a native creature living in the Louisiana climate. Furthermore it had pointy ears and simian type feet. Whatever it was, it didn't appear to be a dog. Some believed it was another type of cryptid, such as a Chupacabra, or a Devil Monkey. Skeptics say it was just a Pomeranian breed of dog, but other researchers believe It was a Rougarou. My opinion is that this doesn't seem to fit any description of a Rougarou and is likely just a misidentified known animal.
On a final note, it seems that the legends of the Rougarou have deep cultural significance and ties to the Cajun peoples of the Louisiana bayou. Perhaps tales of this beast are simply told to scare children or to keep people from doing bad. Or perhaps, there is a sinister presence waiting out there for its next victim...
Possible Explanations of the Rougarou:
• A simple folktale to scare children
• Misidentified animals
• Deranged humans / societal outcasts