Venomous versus Non-Venomous Snakes

venomous snakes

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Snakes are slender, cold-blooded reptiles who are known for having long bodies and no legs. While there are over 3,000 species of snakes, they all tend to look the same when you possess a strong dislike for them. Whether harmless or poisonous, they are all considered an enemy when in the same vicinity as you. Harmless snakes, however, should not face the same consequences as their deadlier counterparts. 

What is the difference?

Non-venomous snakes aid in the population control of common pests, such as rats and mice. These harmless snakes have even been known to prey on poisonous snakes. As a result, there is a reduced chance of people coming into contact with these deadly reptiles. Throughout several parts of the world, harmless snakes are seen as beneficial to the environment.

In contrast, one of the only positive things about venomous snakes is that they can be used in discovering and developing new medicine. Snake venom can affect blood pressure and blood clotting. As such, scientists can use that same venom to develop new drugs to treat these health issues. Snake venom has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including cancer, pain, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. 

How to Distinguish Between Venomous and Non-Venomous Snakes

There are four types of poisonous snakes that exist in the United States: rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths (or water moccasins), and coral snakes. It is estimated that more than 7,000 Americans are bitten by a poisonous snake each year. Due to this reason, it is important to be able to distinguish between venomous and nonvenomous snakes. Different snake bites require different medical assistance. By understanding which snake has bitten you, you are able to accurately assess your potential risks, increasing your chances of survival.  

Here are a few notable things to consider in order to help you understand the type of snake you have come in contact with.

1. Head Shape and Pits

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Image credit: snakesox.com

Venomous snakes have a distinct head shape. Their heads are typically wide at the back and attached to a narrow neck. This gives off a triangular-shaped appearance. While this can be seen as a good indicator, it is not always accurate. It is known that non-venomous snakes have a tendency to flatten their heads into a more triangular shape, appearing more dangerous to potential predators. This can lead to them being confused with venomous snakes. As a result, poisonous snakes cannot be identified solely by head shape.

Another indicator that can assist in further identification is the pits (or holes) that appear on their heads. Rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths, and coral snakes all fall under the category of pit vipers. This means that each snake has two pits that appear on their snouts. Pits resemble nostrils and are located midway and slightly below the eye. Non-venomous snakes do not have pits.

2. Pupils

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Image Credit: asawright.org

A snake’s pupils can be a great indicator when trying to determine whether it is venomous or not. Poisonous snakes’ eyes are comparable to a cat’s eye, as they possess slit-like elliptical pupils. In contrast, harmless snakes have round pupils. With that being said, this identification method can be dangerous. It is better to keep a safe distance when observing a snake. 

3. Coloring

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Image Credit: snake_removal.com

While there are only four types of venomous snakes in the United States, each type contains several subspecies that come in a variety of sizes and colors. As a result, color may not be a completely accurate method in distinguishing between venomous and non-venomous snakes. With that being said, there are some color aspects that can be useful in identification. If a snake has solid colors, it is often harmless. Comparably, if the snake is more patterned and colorful, it is a good idea to use caution when approaching. There are exceptions to each of these rules, but they are great to take into consideration.

4. Tails

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One noticeable identifier can be a snake’s tail. Young cottonmouths and copperheads can be identified by their tails. They are often bright yellow or greenish-yellow in color. Of course, one of the major identifiers of a venomous snake’s tail is if it rattles. If you hear a rattling sound, you are about to come into contact with one of the most poisonous snakes. You should safely flee the area as soon as possible. While non-venomous snakes can replicate rattling noises, it is always better to be safer than sorry.  You should not risk your life to satisfy your curiosity. 

5. Behavior

Behavior can be used in distinguishing between venomous and non-venomous snakes. Each snake exhibits different behaviors and characteristics. With a wide variety of behavior, however, it can be difficult for an untrained individual to remember the differences. A few noticeable behavioral differences can be seen in rattlesnakes and cottonmouths. Rattlesnakes tend to shake their tails and omit loud clicking noises when threatened, but not all rattlesnakes have rattles. Cottonmouths, or water moccasins, swim with their entire body on the water’s surface while non-venomous snakes only allow their heads above the water.

Encountering a Snake

In the event that you encounter a snake, the best thing to do is to move to safety. If you are unable to do that, you can then assess the situation and determine if the snake is venomous or non-venomous. In the case that the snake is not interfering with your safety, it is always better to let it slither away rather than approach it. 

Thankfully, snakes rarely attack humans unless they feel threatened. If you are bitten, however, there are a few steps you can follow. First, no matter the type of snake, it is always best to treat it like an emergency. If possible, you should head to your nearest emergency room or call an ambulance if needed. 

The next, and possibly most important, step is to stay calm. While this is easier said than done, panicking can result in the potential poison spreading quicker. Do not search for the snake that bit you, but rather stay still and try to remember any identifying features. If possible, seek out first aid from those around you. 

More Tips

Along with these steps, there are a few additional tips that can help in the aftermath of being bitten. Be sure to remove any jewelry from the bitten area as swelling can and will occur. Contrary to popular belief, do not attempt to cut, suck, wash, or press the bite. The best thing to do is fasten a pressure immobilization splint and bandage, but make sure not to restrict blood flow completely. Be sure to change your position in order to elevate the bitten area level with or below where your heart is. Finally, do not apply ice or a tourniquet, and do not drink caffeine or alcohol.

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Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

Cajun Village

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For those looking for something different from their normal shopping routines, Cajun Village is the perfect place for you. Guests can take a trip through time as they shop through the restored historic Acadian buildings. Each speciality shop offers a unique experience from normal boutiques and shopping centers.

If shopping does not interest you, you can find some sweet treats just waiting for you to take a bite. At the end of the trip, guests can finish their day by relaxing and observing the alligator pond, featuring real alligators.

1. Coffee House

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Image credit: Facebook

The first on this list is sure to satisfy your taste buds. The Coffee House offers a wide variety of classic southern food, including the fan-favorite beignets. The café offers breakfast from 6 AM to 11 PM. Not a fan of breakfast food? They also offer a variety of hot, homemade lunches. The Coffee House is open until 6 PM seven days a week. 

2. Cajun Village Cottages

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Image Credit: Facebook

If you are looking to stay a while, be sure to look into The Cajun Village Cottages. Guests can get their fill of history and charm at this cozy bed and breakfast. Founded in the historic area of Sorrento, LA, the cottages include eight Acadian-style shotgun houses. Each cottage is fitted with original, restored hardwood floors and showcases its own distinct furnishings and ambiance. With eight great options, guests are sure to find a cottage suited to their taste. 

3. Cajun Village Antiques

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Image Credit: Trip Advisor

Housed in an 100 year-old General Mercantile store, Cajun Village Antiques shop is just as unique as its items inside. With a wide range of selection, this “Louisiana style” shop offers a unique perspective to the typical home décor. From home to camp living, guests are sure to find an item that fits perfectly into their household environment.

4. Platinum Portraits

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Image Credit: platinumportraitsbyjeri.com

Don’t let your time at Cajun Village go by without capturing a few special memories. Platinum Portraits is a natural light portrait photographer located inside Cajun Village. This allows for both indoor and outdoor photography. As a result, guests can have their photos taken around the shops and ponds of Cajun Village.

5. LA Cajun Kitchen Store

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Image Credit: cajunvillageshops.com

LA Cajun Kitchen Store is the place to go when you are searching for authentic Louisiana souvenirs. From T-shirts and swamp music to cookbooks and Cajun foods, there are a variety of options to choose from perfect for all ages. Take a step inside and enjoy the Louisiana flair waiting for you.

6. Louisiana Pottery

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Image Credit: Facebook

Originally located in St. James, Louisiana Pottery is an Acadian-style restored home. Guests can view the museum collection, and it is available for exhibit.  Louisiana Pottery also offers pottery classes for both adults and children.

7. Ms. Bea’s Swamp Candy Shop

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Image Credit: cajunvillageshops.com

Satisfy your sweet tooth at Ms. Bea’s Swamp Candy Shop. From ice cream to taffy and every type of candy in between, this shop is sure to hit the spot. Not only does this shop feature a wide variety of sweets, but it also offers regular souvenir items. Visitors can find a wide selection of household items and décor available for purchase.

Location Information

Cajun Village is located at 6466 LA-22, Sorrento, Louisiana. Being located in a small town not far from Baton Rouge, the village is perfect for those searching for unique shops outside of the typical downtown New Orleans trip. It a wonderful place for guests to take a break from normal city noise, allowing visitors to relax and enjoy their environment. If you find yourself in town, don’t hesitate to grab a bite to eat, enjoy the local art, and snap a few pictures!

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Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

Alligators versus Crocodiles: What’s the Difference?

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Dating back over 240 million years, the Crocodylia lineage has outlived the dinosaurs by over 65 million years. For many, crocodiles and alligators are easily interchangeable and often considered one and the same. In a way, it is easy to confuse these massive creatures. Both are viewed as large reptiles with toothy grins and rough, bumpy skin that have the ability to live on land or in water. 

Similarities Between Alligators and Crocodiles

Among many physical similarities, both have eyes situated on the top of their heads. This enables them to look out for prey while remaining primarily underwater. Their eyes possess the same vertical pupils which helps them to open their eyes extra wide. This not only allows more light to pass through their eyes but also allows them to have night vision. Both alligators and crocodiles possess large, powerful tails. This assists them in swiftly propelling themselves through the water. 

These features help both alligators and crocodiles to catch a variety of prey. This is why they are considered expert hunters. From fish to buffalo, these reptiles are able to eat whatever they can get their jaws on. Since their teeth are specialized particularly for spearing, it is very difficult for prey to escape once captured. If small enough, alligators and crocodiles often swallow their prey whole. Unfortunately for their prey, both alligators and crocodiles possess an unlimited supply of teeth. This means they are able to regrow teeth anytime they are lost. 

Differences Between Alligators and Crocodiles

With a long list of similarities, you are probably wondering what the differences are between alligators and crocodiles. While these two reptile groups are closely related in many categories, there are major differences between them.

Snout and Jawline Shape

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At first glance, people may believe that alligators and crocodiles have the same snouts, but this is not true. Alligators have a wider, U-shaped snout. This is different from the more pointed, V-shaped snout that crocodiles have. Both have razor-sharp teeth lining their snouts, which they use to capture and hold onto prey. The difference lies in how these teeth can be viewed.  

When looking at an alligator, only the top teeth are visible. This is due to their upper jaw being wider than their lower jaw. As a result, the bottom teeth disappear when their mouths are no longer open. Both sets of teeth can be seen when Crocodiles close their mouths. This is due to both of their jaws being similar in width, allowing the top and bottom teeth to interlock.

Size and Weight

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It is no doubt that both alligators and crocodiles are massive reptiles. With that being said, they do vary in size. While sizing depends on the particular species, crocodiles have a tendency to grow larger than the average alligator. Adult crocodiles can grow to approximately 19 feet long, while adult alligators can grow to 14 feet long.

Skin

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A noticeable difference between alligators and crocodiles lies in the color and texture of their skin. Crocodiles are often lighter in color compared to alligators, often associated with being a light tan or olive color. 

In contrast, alligators are often a mix between black and grey. The shade of their skin directly depends on the environment in which the alligator swims in. For example, they often appear darker when swimming in environments with overhanging trees due to tannic acid. In contrast, they appear greener in areas where algae is abundant. 

Both crocodiles and alligators have sensory organs on their skin. These are seen in the form of small pits called integumentary sensor organs, otherwise known as ISO. This plays a role in helping both crocodiles and alligators locate their prey. ISO allows them to sense small pressure changes made throughout the water by other animals. 

ISO appears as small dots that can be seen on both reptiles, but the main difference lies in the placement. On crocodiles, ISO covers the majority of the body. In comparison, it is only seen around the mouths of alligators. 

Behavior

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A major difference between alligators and crocodiles can be found in the behavioral patterns. It is true that both reptiles are extremely dangerous, but their behavior differs from one another. Alligators are relatively timid compared to crocodiles. If approached, alligators have a tendency to try to escape rather than attack. However, they will attack if necessary, specifically if they are provoked, unexpectedly approached, or defending their young. Alligators are often more afraid of humans than the other way around. Regular contact, however, can cause them to lose that fear. Feeding them can result in them viewing humans as a source of food. This often results in them mistaking small children and family pets as prey.  

In contrast, crocodiles are often bad-tempered and more likely to attack humans, often unprovoked. Following the Nile crocodile, Australian saltwater crocodiles are viewed as the most dangerous in the world. Thankfully, American crocodiles are less aggressive and more timid, rarely attacking humans. While you are more likely to be attacked by an alligator than a crocodile in America, individuals getting attacked by either are extremely unlikely to happen. In fact, it is believed that Americans are more likely to be killed by a shark than an alligator or crocodile.

Location

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In the United States, individuals are more likely to see an alligator than a crocodile. This is due to the notably larger alligator population in comparison to the crocodile population. There are approximately 3 million alligators to an estimated 2,000 crocodiles in the US. 

One key difference between alligators and crocodiles is their preferred habitat. Crocodiles are often found in areas dominated by low-flowing rivers and grasslands. This includes Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia, North American, South America, and Central America. Unlike alligators, the crocodile’s lingual salt glands are extremely well-developed. As a result, they are able to expel excess salt from their bodies. This allows them to live in saline water for weeks at a time.   

In comparison, alligators are more common in China and the Southeastern portion of the United States, including Florida and the Gulf Coast states. This is a result of their less developed lingual glands, which forces alligators to stick to freshwater habitats. Alligators can often be found in freshwater marshes and slow-moving streams, but some do reside in brackish water (a mixture of saltwater and freshwater). The only area in the world where both alligators and crocodiles can be found living together is the Florida Everglades.

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Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walk through New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

New Orleans City Tours: Marigny New Orleans

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Marigny New Orleans is known as an offbeat, vibrant art scene filled with a variety of establishments ranging in color and ready for your choosing. Guests can visit local artisans’ galleries and funky live jazz music venues or stroll down the streets, listening to the many sidewalk musicians.

History

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Photo courtesy of Carol-Jean Dixon

Marigny, otherwise known as Faubourg Marigny, was initially laid out in the first decade of the 19th century just downriver of the old New Orleans city limits. Due to its location, the section of Marigny closest to the river was built up first. Unfortunately, the neighborhood declined during the mid-20th century, but it was able to regain its strength in the late 20th century. As a result, the 1984 World’s Fair drew many French Quarter residents to Marigny.

It is considered one of the most colorful neighborhoods in the entire city. Both colonial French and Spanish elements have been the main influence in Marigny architecture, but some aspects of the Caribbean have also been seen. The blending of these different cultures has resulted in Marigny possessing its own unique architectural style.

In 2005, Marigny was able to avoid the disastrous effects of Hurricane Katrina, which wreaked havoc on most of New Orleans. Besides some partial wind damage, parts of Marigny sat at a high enough elevation to escape the deadly flooding seen throughout the city. The few areas that did flood did not experience significant damage.

Mardi Gras is considered a major, staple holiday in New Orleans, and Marigny is known to be one of the most active neighborhoods during this time. Believed to draw a bigger crowd than Bourbon Street, Marigny is slowly becoming the new heart of Mardi Gras for locals. One of the main crowd pleasers is the Society of St. Anne Walking Parade, featuring some of the best homemade costumes. The idea that anyone can be whoever they want for a day tends to draw crowds of visitors.

Frenchmen Street

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While Frenchmen Street is located in the 7th Ward of New Orleans, it is mostly known for the three-block section located in Marigny. Frenchmen Street features several houses that are over 100 years old, some even dating back later than that. In the 1980’s, the street began developing an entertainment district. Unlike Bourbon Street, which became more tourist-oriented, Frenchmen emerged as a hot spot for locals looking to enjoy live music. As a result, it was intended to showcase authentic New Orleans musical and gastronomical tastes. Fortunately, it was able to escape Hurricane Katrina relatively unscathed, actually resulting in an increase of visitors.

Frenchmen Street has a lively night life, featuring neon blinking lights, curbside concerts, and buzzing crowds. It is sometimes considered the most consistent musical stretch in all of New Orleans. Guests can find a wide variety of venues offering an array of live performances, ranging from traditional jazz and blues to reggae and rock. Frenchmen also features several late-night eateries more than suitable for any end of the night cravings. With so many options, visitors are guaranteed to experience a night suited to their needs.

Crescent Park

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Photo courtesy of http://www.crescentparknola.org

Crescent Park is a 1.4 mile, 20-acre urban linear park that plays a part in connecting the French Market District to the visitors of the riverfront. The park allows for outdoor recreational activities in a comfortable setting without sacrificing the working-class grit that defines the area. One side of Crescent Park features its signature symbol: the arched Piety Street Bridge, providing pedestrians with the safety of crossing over active railroad tracks. The concrete remnants of the old Piety wharf building lend an urban feeling to the stunning riverscape. Some of the park’s running paths end in the river and patches of weeds grow throughout, offering a sense of edginess in this picturesque landscape.

Explore Faubourg Marigny

Explore all of what Faubourg Marigny has to offer today and learn what makes it one of the most unique neighborhoods in New Orleans. With a wide range of shops and restaurants available, visitors can rest assured that they will see something that peaks their interests. Cajun Encounters offers the perfect opportunity to explore New Orleans, including Marigny, while hearing about the details that make it great from the mouths of well-trained guides. As a result, guests are guaranteed an uninterrupted viewing experience while learning more than they would alone or with any ordinary walking tour.

Cajun Encounters City Bus Tours offers visitors three different tour options throughout three different times of the day. The morning tour includes daily pick-ups at 8:30 am and offers guests a look into the historic city, including the experience of coffee and beignets for breakfast.  The mid-day tour begins at 11:15 am daily and offers a complete city tour, including a drive through the 9th ward. The afternoon tour begins daily pick ups at 2:30 pm and offers a full city tour, lasting for two and a half hours.

Guests can travel through the most well-known neighborhoods in New Orleans, including Marigny and the French Quarter, while seeing famous attractions like Frenchmen Street, the St. Louis Cathedral and Cemetery No. 1, and the Crescent Park. Those interested in the deep and interesting history of New Orleans can view the famous St. Charles Avenue Street Cars, beautiful Antebellum Mansions, and the mighty Mississippi River.

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Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

I am St. Tammany Tourism

In celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week, Cajun Encounters was recently featured in “I am St. Tammany Tourism” on the Louisiana Northshore YouTube channel, created by the St. Tammany Parish Tourist & Convention Commission (STPTCC).

The STPTCC has been recognized with top awards from the Louisiana Travel Association, City-County Communications & Marketing Association, and the Southeast Tourism Society, which covers a 12-state region and represents hundreds of destination marketing organizations.

Make sure to check out the Louisiana Northshore YouTube channel, and of course, their website is available at LouisianaNorthshore.com

I AM ST. TAMMANY TOURISM!

Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

New Orleans City Tours: Garden District

New Orleans City Tours

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The Garden District is a place where romance blooms and memories are made. Visitors wishing to explore this magical neighborhood are met with oak-shaded streets, brick line sidewalks, and a variety of historic houses, ranging from single-story cottages to grand mansions. Its green canopy has become its most famous and memorable characteristic, featuring an abundance of hibiscuses, crepe myrtles, angel trumpets, and bougainvillea. 

History

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The Garden District was established by the American elite and originally became part of the City of Lafayette in 1833; however, the name was not officially dubbed until 1852, when it became a part of New Orleans. The Garden District is considered an early example of a luxury suburb most known for its architectural design. The area consists of a variety of homes ranging in size, a cemetery, a shopping center, and a large public avenue. The Garden District began with two houses on each block surrounded by a large garden, but in the late 1800’s, lots of land began to be subdivided in an effort to make the area more urban. This meant yard sizes were reduced, and houses were surrounded by cast-iron fences. Many of the 19th century mansions followed this trend, and as a result, the Garden District became well-known for its architecture as well as its scenery.

Today, the Garden District sits in pristine condition, standing strong after enduring several hurricanes that have attempted to mar its beauty. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and identified as a National Historic Landmark. A number of celebrities, including actors and athletes, call this magical place their home. Visitors can enjoy their day sitting in the shade or strolling down the oak-lined street, soaking in one of the most stunning man-made environments in the world. 

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

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Visitors can explore one of the oldest city-governed cemeteries in New Orleans while in the Garden District. Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 received its name from the original City of Lafayette and is the home of a rich history. Among the 500 wall vaults, visitors can find the resting place for several notable people, including many first-generation settlers who immigrated to New Orleans primarily from Ireland and Germany. Overall, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 contains 1,100 family tombs and over 7,000 people are estimated to be buried there.

Magazine Street

Magazine Street, a major thoroughfare in New Orleans, stretches across six miles and runs parallel to the Mississippi River. The origin story of Magazine Street’s name is not fully known, but there are two theories of how it came about.  Many believe it received it named from the warehouse that the Spanish Governor built to store exports, while others believe its name stems from an 18th century colonial ammunition magazine.

Magazine Street offers a break from the stereotypical mall experience, offering retail street stores mixed throughout charming homes. These stores offer a wide variety of unique products, including but not limited to pottery, furniture, clothing, books, toys, and jewelry.

St. Charles Avenue

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St. Charles Avenue is considered an embodiment of all things New Orleans. It is known as the “Jewel of America’s Grand Avenues” and characterized by a grand and leafy residential avenue, stretching for more than five miles before ending near South Carrollton Avenue. In 2007, St. Charles was labelled as one of the American Planning Association’s top 10 Greatest Streets, marking its place in history as an icon of Southern style and charm. It has served as a magical gateway for visitors making their way to New Orleans for nearly two centuries.

St. Charles is the home of the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world: the St. Charles streetcar line, which began operating in 1835. It was successfully added to the National register of Historic Places in 1973. Thanks to its combination of vivid scenery and rich history, St. Charles Avenue has cemented itself in New Orleans tourism culture and remains a popular place for visitors from around the world to this day.

Experience the Garden District Yourself

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Visit the Garden District and experience its lush green walkways and historic scenery firsthand! Cajun Encounters is the perfect way to experience the District while hearing about the details that make it great from the mouths of well-trained guides committed to giving guests the best New Orleans experience. Tours take place on air conditioned buses, offering uninterrupted views unlike any other tour available.

Cajun Encounters City Bus Tours offers tours at three different times of day. The morning tour includes daily pick ups at 8:30 am and offers guests a look into the historic city, including the experience of coffee and beignets for breakfast.  The mid-day tour begins at 11:15 am daily and offers a complete city tour, including a drive through the 9th ward. The afternoon tour begins daily pick ups at 2:30 pm and offers a full city tours, lasting for two and a half hours.

Visitors can experience an authentic look into the well-known neighborhoods that make New Orleans a famous tourist destination, including the Garden District and the French Quarter. Attractions that guests are guaranteed to see include, but are not limited to: Café Du Monde, Jackson Square, City Park, and so much more. With a backstory as intricate as New Orleans’, visitors have the ability to see a variety of historical landmarks. This includes the famous St. Charles Avenue streetcar line,  the mighty Mississippi River, and the lasting effects of the notorious Hurricane Katrina.

Cajun Encounters works hard to ensure guests’ safety during these trying times. As a result, tour sizes are limited and tour times are reduced to allow for proper disinfection between tours. High touch surfaces, such as seats and railings, are sanitized multiple times per day. Hand sanitizer is provided on location, and masks are worn by each staff member and are available for guests who wish to wear one.

Buy your tickets and start exploring today by visiting https://www.cajunencounters.com/tours/city-bus-tour/  or calling 504.834.1770.

Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

Swamp Tour Essentials: What To Bring?

Swamp Tour Essentials

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With cooler weather approaching and COVID restrictions lessening, it is the perfect time to schedule a trip to the swamp, and Cajun Encounters is just what you are looking for. From alligators to raccoons, you will be able to see a wide variety of swamp animals in their natural environment. If this is your first time to a swamp, or the south in general, do not worry. Here is a list of five swamp tour essentials you can bring to ensure that you are the best prepared.

Bug Repellent

Bug Repellent

Out in the swamp, it is natural for little creepy crawlers to be out and about.  However, the winds from the moving boat typically keep them at bay. If you decide to explore the surrounding areas of the swamp, you do risk getting bitten by a bug. To lower the risk of being someone’s next treat, it is always best to wear bug repellent on a swamp tour.

Sunscreen

sunscreen

In the south, the sun has a tendency to feel extra hot. While our boats do have overhead covers, you still run the risk of getting some sun exposure. While swamp tours are enjoyable, sunburns are not. It is best to wear sunscreen when in these outdoor conditions, especially if you have fair skin or are prone to sunburn.

Rain Wear

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In Louisiana, you can pretty much count on the weather not being predictable whatsoever. Sunny radar forecasts do not always guarantee sunny skies. This will not ruin your experience, but guests who bring rain wear can protect themselves from getting wet if their tour does happen to get rained on.

Sunglasses

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As stated previously, the sun can get extremely hot in the south, and its reflection on the water can disrupt your vision. Make sure not to miss any animal sightings by wearing sunglasses on your tour.

Comfortable Clothing

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Clothing recommendations can change according to the weather, but one thing remains the same. Comfortable and casual clothing is your best option. For those who have a tendency to get cold quickly, a light jacket is a great choice when picking out your outfit.

If you find yourself without any of these items upon arrival, do not worry. Each item above can be found inside the gift shop located at Cajun Encounters. While you’re there, we encourage you to look around and purchase some snacks and souvenirs. 

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Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

Crawfish Season 2021

Perhaps considered an unofficial mascot of New Orleans, crawfish hold a special place in the heart of every Louisiana resident. They are known by several different names, including craydids, crawdaddies, mudbugs, or yabbies, but they will always be known as crawfish in Louisiana. Crawfish are a major component in many Louisiana dishes, including etouffee and pie. In fact, these little crustaceans are so loved that they even gained themselves their own season

What are Crawfish?

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Crawfish, originally referred to as crayfish, are small crustaceans that are found in fresh water settings all over the world. Most crawfish cannot live in polluted water, but there are some exceptions. They bare a resemblance to the much larger lobster, to which they are related to. They are often compared to lobsters and shrimp in terms of taste. While they are popular all over the world, including Sweden and Spain, they are predominantly found in Louisiana. In fact, approximately 95% of all the crawfish that is consumed in the United States alone is harvested from Louisiana. Louisiana’s abundance of swamps, rivers, and lakes makes the state the perfect habitat for these well-loved crustaceans.

Crawfish are characterized by a joined head and thorax and come in a variety in color, including sandy yellow, green, red, or dark brown. Their head includes a sharp snout and their eyes are found on movable stalks. They have to ability to breathe through feather-like gills. While their exoskeleton is thin, it is considerably tough. They possess power pinchers called chelae, located at the front of their body. They typically grow to be about 3 inches long, but the largest can grow to 15 inches.

While commonly used for food, crawfish can be used for a variety of things. Crawfish are often used as bait, whether live or only tail meat, in order to attract a variety of ray-finned fishes. It is important, however, that these crustaceans can only be used in the same environment that they are caught. Surprisingly, crawfish can also be kept as pets. They can be kept in freshwater aquariums and can live off of a variety of food, including regular and tropical fish food, algae wafers, and small fish.

Crawfish Season

While crawfish season is a well-known to Louisiana residents, there is no official set season. It roughly begins in March and ends in June. These months produce an increase of the crawfish population, allowing them to be eaten in large amounts. Typically, crawfish boils usually involve spicy boiled crawfish, corn, and andouille sausage. They can be eaten by the pounds and often poured directly onto tables lined with newspapers for large gatherings to enjoy.

 

This season brings along several events and festivals to celebrate Louisiana’s national crustacean. These giant crawfish boils gather a large number of visitors, craving the taste that only Louisiana knowns how to offer. Beginning in late April, the Nola Crawfish Festival hosts crawfish eating contests, live music, and much more. It is located at Central City BBQ and lasts until May.

 

Located two hours away from New Orleans, the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival hosts live music among other things. This festival is only for one weekend in May, so make sure you know the exact date in advance. Crawfish Mambo is hosted by the University of New Orleans and features an all-you-can-eat crawfish boil as well as live music. This festival usually takes place in May.

See it For Yourself

New Orleans Crawfish Season 2021 Cajun Encounters

Get a first-hand look of where crawfish live with Cajun Encounters. Guests can travel down the Honey Island Swamp, experiencing the beauty of one of the most untarnished ecosystems in America first-hand, and, if that is not enough, there are plenty of educational opportunities to learn about the plants and animals that inhabit it.

Cajun Encounters is always open and ready for those who wish to experience a little adventure outside of daily norms. Guests are guaranteed the best educational experience possible with trained experts as their guides. Cajun Encounters is working hard to ensure not only the satisfaction but also the safety of its visitors by implementing proper COVID-19 protocol. 

Book your tour today at https://www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 before all the spots are all filled up. You do not want to miss this family-friendly, educational experience.

Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

Why Do Raccoons Wash Their Food?

Raccoons often find themselves in the middle of a love-hate relationship with the general public. Some people adore them for their adorable appearance, but the emphasis is on the word some. Considered the masked bandit of the animal world, raccoons are notorious for their food thievery. This has made many people consider them a nuisance

Eating Habits

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Raccoons are omnivores who feed off of plants and small animals, including mice. Over time, they have adapted to living near humans. Since they often find themselves in urban areas that lack fresh food, raccoons are often forced to become opportunistic eaters. As a result, you can often find these little critters rummaging through  garbage cans.

One of the most puzzling things about raccoons is their food cleaning habits, resembling those of a germaphobe. When raccoons find themselves eating near a water source, they have a tendency to dunk their food in the water and roll it around with their paws. In fact, their actual scientific name is Procyon lotor, which literally means the “washing bear”. Food washing, however, is not common among animals. As a result, scientists began researching the real reason behind raccoons strange sanitary act.

Why do raccoons wash their food?

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From dry mouth to saliva shortage, many have theorized many different  reasons for this habit, but there is only one idea that studies approve of. The answer lies in their paws, well, the nerve endings in their paws. Raccoons wet their food to gather more sensory information. As a result, moistening food helps raccoons further understand what they are eating.  

Unlike humans, who can rely on their eyesight, racoons depend on their touch to gather the majority of their information. When a raccoon touches an object, it is able to gather nearly two-thirds of its sensory information. Their paws have four to five more mechanoreceptors than most other mammals. As a result, raccoons are able hold, manipulate, and interpret objects on the same level as humans and other intelligent primates.

Why water?

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Water plays a very important role in a raccoons sense of touch. Ultimately, it increases the receptiveness of the nerve endings in their paws. As a result, their tactile senses are substantially increased. In a 1986 study published in the Somatosensory Research journal, it was found that wetting the skin on their paws dramatically improved raccoon’s sensitivity. 

Raccoons use water similarly to the way humans use light. When light enters the human eye, the optical nerve response is increased. This makes things easier for humans to see. Similarly, when a raccoon touches water with their paw, their tactile nerves responsiveness improves. As a result, they are able to receive more information about their food. This is important because raccoons are known to eat a variety of foods, and some are not always safe. When scavenging for food in dangerous places, such as garbage cans, it is important for them to be able to identify what is and is not safe to eat.

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Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

Swamps, Bayous, Marshes, oh my! What’s the difference?

For those who are unfamiliar, it is very easy to lump together swamps, bayous, and marshes. While they may seem similar at first glance, they do have a few defining characteristics. 

What are Wetlands?

Wetlands are low-lying areas that are overly saturated with water, both permanent and seasonally. They typically contain hydric soils and aquatic vegetation. It is not uncommon for wetlands to have extended periods of dryness, but its water table is typically at the surface long enough to support aquatic plants each year. 

Wetlands are considered one of the most biologically diverse and productive ecosystems in the world. They occupy an important transition zone between land and water and provide a habitat for a variety of plant and animal species. They play a critical role in amphibian breeding grounds. There are many positive aspects to wetlands. They are known to reduce flood peaks, serve as natural filters, control erosion, and recharge and discharge groundwater.

What is the difference between swamps, bayous, and marshes?

Swamps, bayous, and marshes all fall under the category of a wetland. While they are often viewed as interchangeable, they each serve a different function

Swamps

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Swamps are defined as forested wetlands. They are typically next to larger rivers, including the Amazon and Mississippi, as they depend heavily upon their natural water level fluctuations.  Their water can vary, often including fresh, brackish, and sear water. Swamps are comparable to lowland forests, but the main difference lies in the water. Swamps typically have deeper standing water. They are also wetter for longer periods throughout the year.

 Swamps are often characterized by the dominant type of tree that can be found growing there. These trees have adapted over time in order to survive in standing water and constantly saturated dirt. An example of these trees are cypress, cedar, and hardwood. These trees are often the names of swamps. For example, you may come across a hardwood swamp, according to National Geographic.

Bayous

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Bayous are characterized as small, sluggish waterways. These marshey outlets often take the form of anabranches, a river or stream that diverts from the main channel of the water course and rejoins later downstream.Their currents have the ability to reverse, resulting in them carrying in brackish water. These outlets are often found in lowlands or swamps. Their water flow is generally so slow it is almost unnoticeable to those viewing it. As a result, they have a tendency to become boggy and stagnant. Bayous can be found criss-crossing across most of Louisiana. 

It is believed that Bayous gained their name from the Native American Choctaw Tribe. It is thought to originate from the word  “bayuk”, meaning “small stream”. No matter the origin, the word bayou was first used in English in Louisiana, which is why it is typically associated with cajun culture.

Marshes

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A marsh is characterized by its consistent flooding of water from one source or another. Marshes are typically freshwater sources, and they often exist in areas with poor drainage. This can include stream beds, lakes, and pods. Due to their constant state of wetness, their soil is extremely rich in nutrients. As a result, they have the ability to support a wide variety of plant and animal life. These plants have the ability to bind to the muddy soil, allowing the to slow the flow of water.  

Since saltwater marshes can be found along oceans, they have the ability to be tidal. As a result, there are three kinds of marshes: tidal freshwater marshes, tidal saltwater marshes, and inland freshwater marshes. Tidal freshwater marshes are often characterized by regularly occurring tidal flooding. This allows for an increase in nutrients, resulting in a more fertile and productive ecosystem. Tidal saltwater marshes are flooded and drained by saltwater, leading them to contain decomposing plant material which result in a decrease in oxygen levels. This allows for hypoxia, which produces the notorious “rotten-egg” smell associated with these bodies of water. Inland freshwater marshes are found where the water table is very high, and their characteristics tend to vary depending on the location

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Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199