Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10)

Charmander (#4)

To this day, I still have not worked out how this Pokémon hides so well. Image credit: Laurie MacQueen

Charmander are gutsy little fire breathers that have a strong will to please. They are brave beyond their years, often defending a loved one until near death and no matter the odds. With careful training, they can be powerful in battle but it takes a dedicated trainer to unlock their true potential.

They are also surprisingly social and enjoy a pack lifestyle. Young ones quickly make strong family bonds, often becoming over-attached to an imprinted ‘mother’. This can cause some disputes when Charmander is bred as a companion Pokémon, as jealousy issues may occur if not quickly managed. However, this pack-mindedness can also be a benefit, allowing Charmander to quickly adapt to family life.

Where to find one?

Charmander live in volcanic regions in warm climates. They have also been found in deserts or beaches in countries near the equator. Their ecological niches make catching one a difficult task.

If you manage to make your way through the rugged terrain, your next issue will be their rarity. To this day, I still have not worked out how this Pokémon hides so well. He has a flame on his tail for Pete’s sake, you’d think he’d shine from miles away at night. I have heard rumours that Charmander numbers are actually much greater than we think and that they live in networks of underground tunnels. I laughed at this at the start of my career, but it does go some way to explain their capture rate. I have also heard there are some professional Charmander trackers for hire near Cinnabar Island, but they charge by the hour and its really not guaranteed you will spot them, even with expert guidance.

So, you’ve conquered the terrain and you’ve actually found a Charmander. What’s the next challenge? Its pack. As I mentioned earlier, Charmander form strong pack bonds that stay cemented until they evolve. This can make it tricky to find a wild Charmander that wants to join you. I have tried to hint throughout these articles about the importance of Pokémon free-will when it comes to capturing. Charmander is one of those Pokémon where this makes a big difference. These are feisty Pokémon that happily work as a team to drive away predators – you for example. Their packs are insanely in-sync. Scientists have studied communication patterns in Charmander, finding that they use a mixture of vocalisation, tail position and eye contact to talk to one another. Whatever they do, they do it well.

If you are intent on catching a Charmander in the wild, I’d recommend spending at least six months tailing a Charmander pack. This may seem excessive, but trust me it will make all the difference. You won’t be able to follow them everywhere, of course, but a pack will have a particular location they return to every day. Usually an oasis or hot spring. They are quite habitual Pokémon, so there is no real danger of the pack spontaneously disappearing completely, as long as there aren’t any huge ecological changes. Find out where their favourite resting place is, camp out there and get as close as they’ll allow. Earn their trust and you might be lucky in that one of them makes a pack bond with you.

However, with all that said, I suggest talking to a breeder. You’ll save yourself a lot of effort and get a much easier-to-train partner who sees you as his true pack.

Raising for battle

A lot of people get excited when I mention Charmander. People often grow up seeing grass Pokémon, normal types and even fighting types everywhere. But fire types? They’re not as big a part of people’s pre-trainer life because they’re usually hidden in urban areas, working as chefs or in engine rooms. That’s if they’re allowed to work at all. Charmander is just not practical for most office environments – that tail is hazardous! Therefore, battling is the reason that 95% of Charmander trainers choose to work with this species. What a choice, I say!

Therefore, battling is the reason that 95% of Charmander trainers choose to work with this species. What a choice, I say! Image credit: Hālian

The Charmander line is one of the biggest challenges to a trainer, but the reward can be huge. The power held by a Charizard can be out of this world. Charmander can hold quite a punch, too. I may be biased, as I spent my early trainer days working with fire types, but I’d say Charmander is one of the toughest of Professor Oak’s popular ‘starters’ programme.

The initial years of Charmander training is overcoming the hurdle of fire control, This is a biggie. Fresh out of the egg, your Charmander won’t know what is a suitable level of flame for different situations and this is something you will need to teach him. In the wild, he learns this from his pack. One of the key methods here is positive reinforcement. That is, whenever your Charmander is showing behaviour you want to see (nice low-flame tail in the house, and nice big flame on the battlefield for example) you give him a treat. This will slowly-but-surely get the message across.

Once he has the hang of flame control, start showing him the destructive power of his flame, especially on the battlefield. Get together a small collection of dry leaves in autumn and let him set fire to them (always remember fire safety), go camping and teach him how to start a camp fire, or cook smores over his tail. This will help train sustainable fire use and heat flares, which is all good training for using Ember and Flame Burst later down the line.

A Charmander’s flame isn’t the strongest, compared with other fire types. But, he has some other arsenal. His Smokescreen and Growl can be a formidable support to flame attacks, while his scratch can be a good way to finish off an opponent.

Charmander is very weak to water types, so some water training might come in handy. Try squirting him with a small water gun (not at the tail) to build up his resistance and dodging abilities.

Keeping Charmander happy and healthy

We’ve all heard the rumours about the importance of a Charmander’s tail and for the most part these are true. But, things aren’t as straight forward as they look. For example, yes, a Charmander will be very affected if their tail flame is extinguished. However, an unlit tail doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to die. This Pokémon has exact control over the intensity of its flame from an early age, and its status often reflects a whole range of things, from health to emotion. As a Charmander trainer, the first thing you should do is learn to read his tail. I have put together a basic guide; perhaps I’ll find it out for you. But, no two Charmander are alike and you should take the time to get to know the ins and outs of his tail language.

Another thing you can do to help Charmander get along is take care of its claws. Like our fingernails, these grow constantly throughout the Charmander’s life, and he will need you to help cut them for him. You can do this yourself, or you can take him to the Pokécentre day clinics.

Charmander are quite happy to be inactive for most of the day. They like to sunbathe and keep warm, but this is not essential to their survival. While he may be lazy, he does like to socialise. It is very important to make sure your Charmander is not left alone for more than two hours. A Pokémon companion is fine, or just a digital connection to you if that is all you can do, but he may develop strong separation anxiety if left.

Overall

Overall, Charmander are social butterflies that excel at fighting. They are tough to train, but very rewarding in later evolution lines. Always remember to be respectful and thoughtful and I am sure you and your Charmander will get along just fine.

Charmander live in volcanic regions in warm climates. They have also been found in deserts or beaches in countries near the equator. Image credit: Hoop Studio

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