Tomorrow is Groundhog Day and while most the country will be watching Punxsutawney Phil emerge from his home in Pennsylvania, here in Acadiana we will be watching our Cajun Groundhog Pierre C. Shadeaux.
Unlike Phil, Pierre doesn’t predict whether we’ll have six more weeks of winter. He takes a more southern approach, predicting if Acadiana will see a longer spring and shorter summer.
For twenty years people have been gathering in New Iberia waiting in anticipation for our little version of the groundhog to make his prediction.
But there’s more to Pierre C. Shadeaux than just deciding our weather patterns. Pierre, better known as Boudreaux, is a nutria rat who lives at Zoosiana. And while many mistake this cuddly creature as part of the rat family, he’s not.
As Lea Loftin of Zoosiana explains, the Cajuns are the ones who gave them their “rat” name.
“It’s because of its tail.”
And yes, he is cuddly and super sweet.
Boudreaux’s ancestors were brought to Louisiana in the 1930s as part of commercial fur farming.
However, once that trend came to an end people started realizing how bad these little guys actually were for Louisiana’s wetlands.
Because, while they can eat fruit and vegetables in captivity, that’s not the case out in the wild.
In their natural habitat, nutria feed on roots, plants, and grasses. In Louisiana, that has spelled destruction for our coastline.
But for Boudreaux, he’s living the life of luxury. Each year he makes his way to Bouligny Plaza to help predict the coming weather. And while we all want to believe that a rodent can make these predictions, the science mostly comes from Boudreaux just wanting a snack.
His main goal is in helping to educate others on the importance of not bringing invasive species, like him, home.
Boudreaux aka Pierre C. Shadeaux will be at Bouligny Plaza on Saturday, February 2 to make his prediction beginning at 7:00 am.
The video below is of Pierre’s 2018 prediction: