Louisiana is a lovely place to visit. However, if you do go there, it is wise to consult long-time residents on the local legends of the area, especially about creatures like the rougarou of the Bayou. It is always good to know which areas should be avoided.
Similar to the European werewolf, the rougarou is a man who can shape-shift, or transform, into a creature. The name rougarou comes from a variant pronunciation and spelling of the French loup-garou. Loup is the French word for wolf, and garou is a man who transforms into an animal.
In the French Louisiana areas, the rougarou has been the stuff of legends for several generations. The legends originally came from either the early French settlers or the French Canadian immigrants (Acadia) centuries ago.
Apparently, the Cajuns believe the creature prowls in the swamps around Acadiana and Greater New Orleans. It might also be lurking around fields, forests, and maybe just anywhere it chooses to. It is a creature with a human body and a wolf head.
Like many tales and lore about creatures, the stories about the rougarou are used to fill children with fear of going to certain places or being out too late at night. Putting the fear of a scary creature into kids is supposed to inspire obedience and make the kids mind their parents. A horrible thought, to scare a child like that, but it does happen.
Some say the rougarou is a headless horseman, much like the one Ichabod Crane had a problem with. It has sometimes been said that a witch can transform into a rougarou, or make a rougarou by putting a curse on others.
One of the most common versions is that one who becomes a rougarou will remain under that spell for 101 days. When the 101 days are up the curse is transferred to another person by blood sucking. The original rougarou then returns to a normal human -- yet, if he tells anyone about his experience, he will be killed by the one he drew blood from. That seems rather ungrateful, but one cannot tell a rougarou what not to do.
As summer comes close to ending and cooler weather approaches, tales of the rougarou begin anew and are often embellished year after year. And the closer it gets to Halloween, the more outlandish the stories get. It has been known that the creature will roam the streets at night, antagonizing everyone it meets until someone stabs or shoots it. The rougarou will purposely do this because at the first drop of blood, it returns to the original human form. He can then tell his attacker who he really is. The trick is, though, that the person who attacked the rougarou cannot tell you, or anyone, about this for 101 days -- or he, too, will become a rougarou.
Now then, there are ways to keep the rougarou away from you. You can roll up a leaf from the swamps and keep it in your wallet. Or, if you are creative, paint a hexagon shape on the middle of your floor, stand in the center of it, and say prayers to protect you. However, if you do not believe the rougarou stories are true, and you do nothing, you may be heading for a bout or two with a rougarou.
So, it stands to reason that if you do intend to visit around the Bayou areas, you should not be doing any rougarouing (staying out late and running around the streets) -- unless you think you might be staying for at least 101 days.