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The rougarou (alternatively spelled as roux-ga-roux, rugaroo, or rugaru) is a legendary creature in Laurentian French communities linked to European notions of the werewolf.


The stories of the creature known as a rougarou are as diverse as the spelling of its name, though they are all connected to francophone cultures through a common derived belief in the loup-garou (French pronunciation: ​[lu ɡaˈʁu], /ˈl ɡəˈr/). Loup is French for wolf, and garou (from Frankish garulf, cognate with English werewolf) is a man who transforms into an animal.

American folklore[edit]

A traditional Cajun Courir de Mardi Gras costume based on a Rougarou (figure on left)

Rougarou represents a variant pronunciation and spelling of the original French loup-garou.[1] According to Barry Jean Ancelet, an academic expert on Cajun folklore and professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in America, the tale of the rougarou is a common legend across French Louisiana[citation needed]. Both words are used interchangeably in southern Louisiana. Some people call the monster rougarou; others refer to it as the loup-garou.

The rougarou legend has been spread for many generations, either directly from French settlers to Louisiana (New France) or via the French Canadian immigrants centuries ago.

In the Cajun legends, the creature is said to prowl the swamps around Acadiana and Greater New Orleans, and the sugar cane fields and woodlands of the regions[citation needed]. The rougarou most often is described as a creature with a human body and the head of a wolf or dog, similar to the werewolf legend.

Often the story-telling has been used to inspire fear and obedience. One such example is stories that have been told by elders to persuade Cajun children to behave. According to another variation, the wolf-like beast will hunt down and kill Catholics who do not follow the rules of Lent.[2] This coincides with the French Catholic loup-garou stories, according to which the method for turning into a werewolf is to break Lent seven years in a row[citation needed].

A common blood sucking legend says that the rougarou is under the spell for 101 days. After that time, the curse is transferred from person to person when the rougarou draws another human’s blood. During that day the creature returns to human form. Although acting sickly, the human refrains from telling others of the situation for fear of being killed.[3]

Other stories range from the rougarou as a rabbit to the rougarou being derived from witchcraft. In the latter claim, only a witch can make a rougarou—either by turning into a wolf herself, or by cursing others with lycanthropy.[4]

In Popular Culture[edit]

The "rugaru" is mentioned as having come to Dakota consciousness from Ojibwa folktales, and figures both thematically and experientially in the narrative of Peter Mathiessen's In The Spirit of Crazy Horse(Viking, 1983).

The rougarou are the main shifter creatures in Olivia Leighton's "The Quarter" paranormal romance series.

The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans in America has an exhibit on the rougarou and features a life-sized mannequin of what the rougarou might look like.

Rougarou is also the title of an online literary journal published out of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The NBA team formerly known as the New Orleans Hornets filed for several new name trademarks among which was the Rougarous.[5]

The Rougarou Fest is a festival that celebrates the folklore of the Louisiana bayous. It takes place on the last Saturday in October in Houma, Louisiana.

Dr John's song, "Loop Garoo," was released in 1970. This includes his standard voodoo references, but also seems to refer explicitly to alligator hunting. This same usage was reflected in Swamp People (season 4, episode 24), when the hunters capture a giant gator referred to by locals as rugaroo.

It was probably first heard on television, pronounced as "Lougarog," in the 1970s TV-movie "Moon of the Wolf," starring David Janssen and Barbara Rush.[citation needed]

The creature is featured in an episode of Cajun Justice, an AE Television show. A camp owner alerted authorities and video taped what he suspected to be a Rougarou in the weeds behind his camp.[6]

The rougarou was featured in the Destination America show Monsters and Mysteries in America.

Haven season 4 episode 11, a rougarou is the suspect in some horrific murders featuring hearts being eaten straight out of the victims' chests.

Supernatural Season 4 Episode 4, Metamorphosis, features a rougarou (spelled "rugaru") is the monster-of-the-week. In this the rugaru is passed down through the family, they appear as normal humans until the age of 30, the 'changing' begins as extreme hunger, they eat everything they can get their hands on. Then they move on to raw meat, until finally they get a taste of human flesh and change into a rugaru. It is also said that if they never eat human flesh, then they never change, although the alternative is to live on raw meat. Season 9, Episode 7, Supernatural, reveals that, in 1995,John Winchester hunted rugarus in upstate New York's Catskill Mountains. At the beginning of Season 6, Episode 10 "Caged Meat" Sam and Dean Winchester are seen giving the alpha rugarus to a group of demons who later transferred the alpha to Crowley, who used it to discover the location of Purgatory.

The legend of the rougarou plays a prominent role in the History Channel television series Cryptid: The Swamp Beast. An unknown creature has been mutilating and killing animals and perhaps humans in southern Louisiana; some locals attribute the attacks to a rougarou.[7] Similarly, in episode 6 of Swamp Mysteries, Troy Landry discusses the rougarou legend while hunting a creature killing pets at Voodoo Bayou.

The novel Hagridden by Samuel Snoek-Brown features heavy usage of the Cajun version of the rougarou.[8]

The Strange Angels book series by Lili St. Crow has a main character, Graves, who is a loup-garou.

In the book Fool Moon (The Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher, a loup-garou (an alternative spelling of rougarou) is the main monster.

In late 2014, Cedar Point theme park in Sandusky, Ohio announced plans to renovate the existing Mantis roller coaster into "Rougarou" for the 2015 season.[9]

In Robert Asprin's Griffen McCandles series the main character lives in New Orleans and among the many creatures he has to deal with on a regular basis are some loup-garou.

In Romauld Racioppo’s children’s picture book series Les Pjyamasques, the Rougarou is called “Grogarou” in his first book called “Les Pjyamasques Et Le Grogarou”

The 2015 short film Atchafalaya centers around a game warden searching in a Louisiana swamp for a missing person who is hinted to have been taken by a loup-garou. The creature is only vaguely seen in the film with a head resembling a bear.[10][11]

In Pascalle Lepas' webcomic Wilde Life, one of the main characters is a "werewolf," while a rougarou is a separate creature. Cursed by a witch, a rougarou becomes a mindless monster and apparently never shifts back into a human; any normal human who sees a rougarou will likewise become one permanently.

J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter universe includes wands that contain rougarou hair as their magical core.[12]

In the 2016 2K game Mafia III, enemy characters can be heard mentioning the Rougarou in Baron Saturday's Fun Park.[citation needed]

In the short story collection Predator: If It Bleeds the Rougarou appears in the story Storm Blood, in which a Predator hunts a rougarou during Hurricane Katrina.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ LSU Cajun-French Glossary Archived 2005-04-26 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "History of the Rougarou: Louisiana's Werewolf | Pelican State of Mind". Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  3. ^ The Nicholls Worth; interview with Barry Ancelet Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ New Orleans Gothic legend Archived 2005-03-07 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Chouinard, K L. "NBA Files For Trademark Names On Behalf Of The Hornets". Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  6. ^ Cajun Justice, Season 1, Episode 5, "A Real Drag", 6 June 2012.
  7. ^ Cryptid: The Swamp Beast, IMDB entry.
  8. ^ Degani, Gay (21 August 2014). "Words in Place: Interview with Sam Snoek-Brown about his Historical Novel: "Hagridden"". Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Cedar Point to re-work Mantis roller coaster into new Rougarou ride". Crain's Cleveland Business. 17 September 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Atchafalaya". 16 April 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2018 – via
  11. ^ Films, Construct (7 May 2015). "Atchafalaya - Teaser Trailer". Retrieved 10 May 2018 – via Vimeo.
  12. ^ "History of Magic in North America - Pottermore". Retrieved 10 May 2018.