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The Secret in Mossy Swamp by Rita Monette

The Secret in Mossy Swamp

by Rita Monette

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Rougarou

While searching for stories about the rougarou, I came across this article by DS Duby and thought I'd share. You can read more of his legend stories at
In my book, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, ten year old Nikki Landry hears a howling sound coming from a nearby swamp island and wonders if it is the dreaded rougarou her papa has warned her about. What is a rougarou?  Read on...

The Rougarou - Southern Louisiana

The legends of the rougarou, or loup-garou, have been passed down from generation to generation as long as Louisiana has been inhabited by modern man. The rougarou are closely related to the European version of the werewolf, but has a few very distinct differences from the wolf men seen in movies and on television.

Wolves are not native to Louisiana, so many times the beast in the story is replaced with other animals such as dogs, pigs or cattle, and generally appear as being pale white in color. As the story goes, the rougarou will wander the streets at night searching for a savior amongst the crowds of people. It will run through and cause havoc to each individual until somebody eventually shoots or stabs the creature.

With the first drop of blood drawn in the dying blow the beast will then turn back into a man and reveal to its attacker his true name. This legend is said to usually happen within the smallest of towns in Louisiana, because of this the rougarou is often already known by its killer. Before the dying man takes his last breath of life he will warn his savior that he can not mention a word of the incident to anyone for one full year, or he too will suffer the same fate, and become the rougarou.

Parents are often known to spin the tales of the rougarou to children who misbehave, warning them that if they don't straighten up they will be visited by the rougarou in their bed come nightfall. One account tells of a boy who encountered the beast while on his way home from a night out with friends. As the boy was walking along a large white dog was following behind nipping at his heels and antagonizing the boy to attack. Finally out of annoyance and slight anger the boy took out his knife and slashed the dog open, at that point the beast then turned back into a man.
In this case, the rougarou told the boy how he had sold his soul to the devil to gain prosperity, but was tricked by Satan and changed into the beast instead. As the curse seems to demand, he then warned the boy of the penalty of mentioning the events that had taken place, but the boy just couldn't resist.

After repeating the story to several friends the boy started to disappear from his room at night and none of his friends of family could find him anywhere until the following morning, at which point he would appear back in his room with no explanation to where he had been.

This went on for about a year, until one morning his body was found laying in the street. The police claimed it was most likely suicide, but friends and family of the boy knew that there would soon be a new rougarou roaming the streets. Anyone who has ever lived in a small town knows that no story can be kept secret for long, not even the tale of the rougarou.


Sharon Ledwith said...

Your post sent a chill down my spine. Funny how lore and legend creep into even the smallest communities. Plus I love all the different names for a werewolf. At some point there has to be a fragment of truth to these stories. Thanks for another great post about the south, Rita! You should create an ebook full of Louisiana tidbits and offer for free on your website!

Jennifer R. Povey said...

Arooooo. Love the werewolves.

Sloane Taylor said...

Rita, you have the most amazing posts. I really enjoy being on the bayou.:)

Patricia said...

Ooh, I like this. Werewolves have always intrigued me so this rougarou tale is awesome.

Rita Monette, Writer said...

Thanks ladies. I'd heard the tale all my life. That's why my character goes in the swamp and not me!

Vonnie said...

Rita, terrific! I'd heard of the loup-garou (even Downunder, yep) but I didn't know the sort of resurrection story behind it.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Had heard the name before but not exactly what it or the tale is. Thanks for another great Louisiana tale, Rita.

Alfredo Tamez said...

I just came back from a weekend at Caddo Lake State Park in Texas. The lake straddles both Texas and Louisiana. Our boat guide informed us that last Halloween they started a haunted lake tour, hugely popular, but lasted only one night. The usual axe murderers, mummies, werewolves and other creatures would jump out and scare the guests. Lasted only one night when all the employees quit en masse because they'd hear splahing behind them in the water and were scared s...tless since the lake is spooky even in daylight. The quitting employees were convinced it was the Caddo Lake version of Rougarou, half man/half gator. Therefore, no loup-garou in them waters, but gator-garou!

Rita Monette, Writer said...

You just never know what might be living in those swamps...or lakes.