The soucouyant or soucriant in Dominica, Trinidadian and Guadeloupean folklore (also known as Ole-Higue or Loogaroo elsewhere in the Caribbean), is a kind of witchvampire.
The soucouyant that lives by day as an old woman at the end of the village. By night, however, she strips off her wrinkled skin, puts it in a mortar, and flies in the shape of a fireball through the darkness, looking for a victim. Still in the shape of a fireball, the soucouyant enters the home of her victim through the keyhole or any crack or crevice.
Soucouyants suck the blood of people from their arms, legs and other soft parts while they sleep. If the soucouyant draws out too much blood from her victim, it is believed that the victim will die and become a soucouyant herself, or else perish entirely, leaving her killer to assume her skin. The soucouyant practices witchcraft, voodoo, and black magic. Soucouyants trade the blood of their victims for evil powers with Bazil the demon who resides in the silk cotton tree. To expose a soucouyant, one should heap rice around the house or at the village cross roads as the creature will be obligated to gather every grain, grain by grain (an almost impossible task to do before dawn) thus being caught in the act. In order to destroy the soucouyant, coarse salt must be placed in the mortar containing the soucouyant’s skin. She then cannot put the skin back on and will perish. Belief in soucoyants is still preserved to some extent in Trinidad.
The skin of the soucouyant is said to be very valuable, as it is used when practicing black magic.
Soucouyants belong to a class of spirits called jumbees. Some believe that soucouyants were brought to the Caribbean from European countries in the form of French vampire-myths. These beliefs intermingled with those of enslaved Africans.
In the French West Indies, specifically the island of Guadeloupe, the Soukougnan or Soukounian is a person able to shed his or her skin to turn into a vampiric fireball. In general these figures can be anyone, not only old women, although some affirm that only women could become Soukounian, because only female breasts could disguise the creature’s wings.
The term “Loogaroo” also used to describe the soucouyant, possibly comes from the French mythological creature called the Loup-garou, a type of werewolf and is common in the Culture of Mauritius.