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Louisiana’s Napoleonic Code-inspired laws sometimes come up short of making sense, but those born with a heightened sense of humor may find some of these strange Louisiana laws to be hilarious.

From rules about spitting, to declarations of how not to treat chickens, crawfish, or gators, the Bayou State is nothing short of creative when it comes to giving very specific directions for how not to live.

You ain’t supposed to steal crawdads

If you’ve ever considered depriving another person of their crawfish, you might want to read Louisiana RS 14:67.5 and think again. Louisiana law basically says you should never steal crawfish.

Here’s an excerpt.

“Theft of crawfish is the misappropriation or taking of crawfish belonging to another or proceeds derived from the sale of such crawfish, whether done without the consent of the owner to the misappropriation or taking, or by means of fraudulent conduct, practices, or representations, with the intent to deprive the owner permanently of the crawfish, or proceeds derived from the sale of the crawfish.”

It’s not a good idea to steal crawfish in Louisiana. Image: KTAL

It turns out, rather unsurprisingly, that taking someone’s crawfish, whether the act is premeditated or impulsive, has severe penalties in the land of Mardi Gras and moonshine.  If a convicted crawdaddy offender misappropriates less than $500 in crawfish, which is not as much crawfish as it sounds like after repeated price increases in recent years, said criminal will be locked up for up to six months and/or fined up to $500.

As of March, live crawfish were selling for around $3.29 a pound. Boiled crawfish were selling for around $5.63 a pound.

To put that number in perspective, a native Louisiana tot can put away one to two pounds of crawfish by three years old. Grown men often knock down five or more pounds.

Stealing 88 pounds worth of boiled crawfish will “save you” somewhere around $500. But in the end, you will be locked up and charged more than you would have paid per pound if you had just bought the crayfish in the first place.

And a second offense by a masked mudbug bandit has been previously convicted of theft of crawfish and is convicted a second time is a terrible idea. Second-time crawfish offenders will be thrown into prison for up to a decade, with or without hard labor, and/or fined up to three thousand smackeroos.

Don’t even ask what will happen if you also take someone’s corn and potatoes, too.

You ain’t supposed to give chickens weaponry

If you can’t control the overwhelming desire to give chickens little, tiny knives and watch them fight with other armed chickens, you might want to take a gander at Louisiana law RS 14:102.23.

The state of Louisiana says it is unlawful to “Organize or conduct any commercial or private cockfight wherein there is a display of combat or fighting among one or more domestic or feral chickens and in which it is intended or reasonably foreseeable that the chickens would be injured, maimed, mutilated, or killed.”19 killed in Mexico at clandestine rooster fight

It is also against the law to have possession of a chicken, to train a chicken, or to sell a chicken for the purposes of fighting.  

Just don’t, okay? Roosters are lovers, not fighters. In this photo a red rooster eyes the camera curiously in a very close-up shot that is more than a little bit creepy. Image: KTAL file.

Possessing, manufacturing, buying, selling, and/or trading paraphernalia related to armed chicken combat is a big no-no, too.

First offenders will be, if convicted, slammed with a fine of $70 to $2000 or imprisoned with or without hard labor for between six months and a year. Fifteen eight-hour days of community service approved by the court are also a part of poultry police protocol.

If you, however, are convicted of the aforementioned chicken crimes a second time, you’ll be charged $1000 to $2000, sent to prison for one to three years, and quite possibly forced to work at hard labor. And there will be zero chance of parole, probation, or suspension of your sentence.

You ain’t supposed to spit in these places

Spitting is prohibited in certain situations in Louisiana, but don’t worry if you are someone who like to spit in public constantly because RS 40:1121 tells Louisiana citizens the exact locations where spitting can get you fined and possibly imprisoned.

Streetcar on Canal in New Orleans. Image: staff.

“No person shall spit upon the floor or walls of any passenger car, streetcar, depot or waiting room, court house, church house, school house, or any other public building,” states the law.

If you’re tempted to spit anyway when you’re in a public place, and you get caught by the law, you can be fined $5 to $20. You might also spend as many as ten days in prison with crawfish thieves and cockfighters.


Print and hang these words or this Louisiana law won’t protect you

Did you know that in Louisiana, if you own a horse, pony, mule, donkey, hinny, cow, bull, ox, or any bovine, sheep, pig, hog, goat, ratite, chicken, or other fowl, you must put up a sign with a very specific warning notice to remove personal liability in case something goes horribly wrong?

It’s the law. RS 2795.1, to be specific.

Take riding your horse in a parade, for instance. Everything is fine and dandy until someone gets hurt and you didn’t previously post a warning notice where Louisiana law specifies.

A mule pulling a carriage ambles through the heart of the French Quarter in hurricane-tossed New Orleans on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Stacey Plaisance)

Failure to post the following warning notice prevents the invoking of the privilege of immunity provided by Louisiana law, so pay attention:

“WARNING Under Louisiana law, a farm animal activity sponsor or farm animal professional is not liable for any injury to or the death of a participant in a farm animal activity resulting from the inherent risks of the farm animal activity, pursuant to R.S. 9:2795.1.”

But don’t forget to print out the law and post it in the correct places, or it will not work in your favor.Opponents of proposed pilot program claim it targets Louisiana’s majority Black cities

Louisianians need permission to grow and must kill this plant before New Year’s Eve

No, it’s not pot.

But there is a plant in Louisiana that is heavily regulated, and you might be surprised to learn what and why. For if you want to grow so much as a single one of these plants in the Bayou State, you must abide by R.S. 3:1607. The law requires you, dear cotton farmer or humble homesteader, contact the state before you plant cotton seeds. They’ll want to know the size and location of any commercial field and any noncommercial patches of cotton you plan to grow. And they will come to your place to check things out, too.

It’s the law.

So why does the state of Louisiana want to know who is growing cotton, where, and how much? It’s likely for the same reason they will literally come and check to make sure you’ve destroyed the crop before December 31.

Say hello to the south’s mortal enemy, the boll weevil.

The McWeevil is a statue of Ronald McDonald as a boll weevil, dressed in his typical red, white, and yellow. This piece of disturbing artwork sits comically at the McDonald’s on Boll Weevil Circle in Enterprise, Alabama. Reader photo courtesy of WFLA.

Cotton is in the hibiscus family and is a perennial plant that can grow to tree-size if not cut back. The plant has been grown in the “new world” since prehistoric times, and the oldest known cotton fabric ever found in the Americas has been tested and dates back approximately 8,000 years. Thousands of years worth of growing allowed other living creatures to evolve alongside the cotton plant, too, and one of those creatures had a heyday when it realized cotton was growing in a place where it was not native: the southern United States before, during, and after the Civil War era.

The boll weevil became such a devastating part of American culture that songs were written about it. Check out Lead Belly’s song “boll weevil.” The song reminds us all that the insects didn’t just eat the crops. They also ate holes in cotton clothing, which was mighty inconvenient to everyone involved except for Mr. Boll Weevil himself.

That’s why it’s Louisiana law to report every stalk of cotton a farmer or gardener plants. It’s also a requirement that all cotton plants be destroyed before December 31 of each year.

Fire ants are one of the boll weevil’s natural predators.

Producers are also required to join the Boll Weevil Eradication Program.

The boll weevil is considered an agricultural pest in the American South. It arrived in the Brownsville, Texas area in the early 1890s and quickly began to devastate southern agriculture.

And though it no longer plagues the South, the old-time songs written by Southerners who were going through devastating times are still being passed down to younger generations. This song about boll weevils by the Punch Brothers is oral history at its finest.

Boll Weevils in the United States were eradicated in 1978, but without cross-border cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico, the boll weevil is thriving in what remains of Mexican cotton fields. Because the struggle with boll weevils is still very real in Mexico, a portion of the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas continually battles to keep boll weevil populations in check.

Not eradicating boll weevils in Mexico is pretty much like tying an alligator to a fire hydrant and assuming that it won’t get away.

And speaking of tying an alligator to a fire hydrant:

You ain’t allowed to tie a gator to a fire hydrant

This one is too much to even try to explain. Common sense has it that having a pet gator is a fairly bad idea, but the fact that New Orleans needs a law that says not to tie a gator to a fire hydrant is pure comedy gold. Ole’ Gator McKlusky would have probably gotten a kick out of it.

An alligator swims gently below the waterline and stares at the camera, perhaps silently begging the question, “Why would you even want to tie me to a fire hydrant?” Image: Nexstar file.

The no-tying-gators-to-fire-hydrants law does have positive benefits, however. One is, obviously, the fact there gators are no longer tied to fire hydrants in New Orleans. But the whole thing leaves us with one question: was this law created to protect the humans, the gators, or the fire hydrants?