Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Makes and Fun Spots

Signs of the Flame: How to Read Your Charmander’s Tail

Pokémon communication specialists have long researched these methods to try and find out how we can best talk to our Pokémon to support their well-being . Image Credit: Scottish LebUwU

Being social Pokémon in the wild, Charmander have developed a complex communication method using their tails. Two Charmander can speak effectively with each other when hunting without making a sound – though verbal communication is also a big part of Charmander life on the whole. Pokémon communication specialists have long researched these methods to try and find out how we can best talk to our Pokémon to support their well-being. This guide introduces nine of the ways you can read your Charmander’s tail to see his mood and health.

A relaxed tail with a medium flame (Top Left)

This is a happy/content tail. A healthy Charmander should be like this most of the time. However, remember that Pokémon have feelings – just like you and me – so just like you’re not always happy and content, neither is he. A happy Charmander may also play with their tails, either chasing them, dancing them or sometimes just giving them a gentle sway. They don’t call it a ‘happy medium’ for nothing – and this is the same for your Charmander’s flame. Not too large, not too small is just right.

To help make your Charmander happier, try encouraging him to partake in his favourite activities. Sometimes Charmander get depressed if they don’t have enough opportunities to hunt, for example. Or, perhaps your Charmander enjoys nightly strolls with you. Quality time is the perfect way to help cheer up your friend.

A relaxed tail with a large, roaring flame (Top Middle)

This is a very angry/I’m showing off my power tail. The two types should be easy to tell between.

A very angry Charmander may accompany tail movements with biting, snarling, a furrowed brow, scratching and crouching. Mature Charmander rarely get to this level of anger without cause, so make sure you stop whatever you are doing and have a time out. If it is an external factor that is causing the problem, remove your Charmander from the situation and perhaps talk it out with him when he begins to calm down.

If your Charmander is very young, he may not have received the right guidance from his pack as to the right and wrong times to get angry. In these cases, strong and sure guidance is essential so that your friend doesn’t develop behaviour problems later on. Get him to a Pokémon Breeder as soon as possible for advice as to whether he needs anger management or simple behaviour classes.

A Charmander who has boosted his flame to show off his power may be trying to look tough in front of an adversary or trying to look good in front of its mates (or you, its trainer). If this is infrequent, don’t worry about it, as it can be part of your Charmander’s everyday socialisation. If it happens too often, or if your Charmander starts ‘facing off’ against you, he may be feeling insecure in his ranking in a social group or unhappy with the intensiveness of your training.

A tail flicking from side to side (Top Right)

This is an annoyed tail, and one of the easiest ways to tell if your Charmander is uncomfortable with something. Don’t be confused with the happy-go-lucky dancing where the tail will flick around in different directions – the angry flicking will be flat and consistent: almost like a metronome. He could use this tail for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from not getting fed at his usual time to bickering with his siblings or frustrated after losing a battle. He may also use this movement to show he is hungry or tired.

This level of anger can usually be averted with a quick distraction. Try rubbing his head, having a chat, or suggesting he take a break.

A tail in front of the body with a medium to large flame (Middle Left)

This is a typical prepared-to-battle tail. You’ll get to know this very well if you are training your Charmander for the Pokémon league. It will usually be paired with a standing stance, a slightly bent knee and a toothy grin. This isn’t the only battle stance – your Charmander may adopt a unique one of his own – but it is the most common one I have seen. Your Charmander shouldn’t really be using this stance outside of battle, but sometimes it is incorporated into play between friends.

A tail arched over the back with a low flame (Middle Middle)

This is a crouching or hunting tail. You will see this when your Charmander is hunting prey such as rodents or small lizards. Charmander will often hunt in packs, so your Charmander may try to encourage you to hunt with him and get very frustrated when you scare away the prey. Perhaps team up with a Pokémon friend who can be a better hunting buddy.

An erect tail with a low flame (Middle Right)

This is a surprised or afraid tail. Ever seen your Charmander watching a scary movie and the monster jumps at the screen? When Charmander feels sudden fear, his muscles stiffen as part of the ‘fight or flight’ response. His tail follows suit, straightening along the length, while the flame dips so that the Charmander can either run without the flame getting in the way or he can flash the flame up in an intimidation display.

If your Charmander is slowly becoming more afraid (for example when watching a slow-burn horror film), you can sometimes notice the tail getting progressively straighter and the flame smaller.

A relaxed tail with a very large flame with specks of white at the core (Bottom Left)

This is an overpowered tail and a sign that Charmander is getting too many nutrients or too much food. A Charmander’s diet can be a little tough to manage as they have a tendency towards gluttony. Always portion your Charmander’s meals and never give in if he begs, as a Charmander’s belly is never full.

Getting too much food can increase your Charmander’s risk factor of diseases such as obesity and diabetes. The enlarged flame that comes as a response to these conditions can also be difficult to manage, increasing fire risks around the home. In addition, the possibility of being accidentally burned by your Charmander increases when his flame is harder to control.

A relaxed but dirty tail with a medium to low flame that has specks of blue in it (Bottom Middle)

This means Charmander has not been taking care of himself. This may be a result of a wide array of different physical and mental problems, as well as a simple hygiene issue. Watch out for other signs of illness such as pale gums, retracted pupils, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and lethargy.

If you don’t see any of these symptoms but your Charmander is still dirty or smelly, you may need to teach him the importance of keeping clean. Take him to a Pokémon Centre (or general health centre) to speak with a specialist who can help set up a hygiene routine. Encourage your Charmander to get involved, perhaps including a sticker reward chart. Eventually, he should learn to do things by himself without the need for a reward.

A weak, floppy tail with a low (but still red) flame (Bottom Right)

This is a sick/injured/very sad tail. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell between a Charmander under a sad spell and those that are depressed and sick. However, if you see your Charmander in this condition and the tail does not change position for around half an hour, get him to the Pokémon centre right away, as it could be a medical emergency. Being predators, Charmander usually hide their illness quite well, so he may still look energetic, despite his illness.

If you have been to a health centre and your Charmander has been given a full bill of health, yet you are still seeing a sad tail, perhaps speak with a Pokémon therapist to see if they can work out what the issue is.

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Stories

Al (A Charmander Story)

Sometimes he’d get caught up watching and smelling, and his stomach would gurgle painfully. Image Credit: The Char Boy

Al had been dreaming of working as a chef ever since he was a hatchling. One of the first things he saw after breaking out of his egg was the shiny neon lights of Al’s Chicken Shack, after which he’d named himself. The hot air from the restaurant’s ventilation duct brought with it smells of exotic spices, smoke and grease. The young Charmander wondered what created those magical fragrances as he took shelter from the rainy nights with his siblings.

After a few days of waiting for their mother, the pack of three brothers were hungry enough that they started to risk taking turns running out to find food. Typical pickings had been discarded pots with some residual sauce smears to lick, or the remains of dead birds.

Whenever it was his turn to go out, Al would sneak up to Al’s Chicken Shack’s windows to peer inside. He watched in awe as the people wearing little white clouds on their heads cooked. Pans flashed, salads tossed and water boiled. Rain pattered around Al, making the bricks of the alley thick and sooty. The longer he sat there, though, the less the real world seemed to matter. Sometimes he’d get caught up watching and smelling, and his stomach would gurgle painfully.

One night, Scarface (so named after a cool-looking poster that hung in the alley) carried in some strips of meat from the trash. Al and the third brother, Elvis (named after a little keychain they found that said “We ❤ Elvis”), ran over salivating. This wasn’t the usual pickings of stringy, fatty leftovers. This was prime cut.

Despite his aching belly, Al paused before gobbling it up, chittering at his siblings so they’d do the same. He took a deep breath to let the scent run deep into his snout. He’d first started doing this a few weeks ago, copying some diners at Al’s Chicken Shack. Doing it thrilled him. It made eating (which was pretty awesome anyway) into a real treat, and he had been practicing it at his window seat above the kitchens.

As he smelled, he expected the tang of onion or the smooth jazz of gravy. Meat that looked this good ought to smell of sizzling pan juices and a faint hint of char from the grill. But what hit him was none of that. It was in fact a stark contrast to what he was seeing. The scent was sharp and sickly. It rang in his nose like a loud bell. He pulled back his teeth and sneezed, backing away from the garlic-like chemical odour.

At Al’s reaction, Scarface’s flame intensified, reflecting angrily in his eyes. He flicked it from side to side, and his shoulders haunched as he let out a little growl. As Al continued to sneeze and shake his head to get rid of the smell, Scarface nipped at Elvis, who had been standing to the side with his head cocked. Scarface’s body language was speaking loud and clear: “How dare you turn your nose up at my catch?”.

Once he was done sneezing, Al puffed up in warning to make himself as big as possible. He wasn’t sure what, but something about that smell was just not right. He needed to take charge of this situation and quickly. A wiser Charmander may have taken a softer approach, chittered softly at his brother and convinced him to ignore his hunger and really consider the meat. But neither hatchling had gained their mother’s guidance, and both were just too young to not bicker.

Al eyed his eldest brother as he pushed passed Elvis and towards the meat. This forced Scarface to back off a little, but his tail flicked faster. The closer Al got to the food, the more his brother lowered his stance, tensed his muscles and intensified his growl. Defying all these warnings, Al continued on and disposed of the meat by flicking it into the gutter by the vent entrance. As the food dropped into the abyss, Scarface’s growls became a shrill hiss, “How dare you, how dare you? How DARE you?!” The sound echoed in the duct work, creating a deafening cacophony that finally triggered Scarface into action. He pounced, claws extended, right into Al’s belly.

The two tumbled together, swiping painfully at reach other’s faces. Al was pushed back, out of the drainpipe, and hit the curb hard in the back of his neck. Al brought his own claws round in a sweep, just missing Scarface, who jumped back a step. The two Charmander faced each other off once more. Al felt a white burning rise from the bleeding cut on his belly. His head felt woozy and he shook it. The water pooling on the alleyway turned red. He tried to muster the strength to puff himself up and show dominance, but both Charmander were stopped in their tracks as the alleyway flooded with light.

* *

Camille tossed some garlic, onion and butter in a pan. She breathed in deeply, enjoying the well-known fragrances. The busy hum of the kitchen gave her a beat to move to. She used the rhythm in her cooking. Cha – a pinch of salt; Cha Cha – a dash of pepper; FWAAH – the fizzle of boiling water as it was poured into the pot. She lived for that music. If six months of working as a commis chef in Al’s Chicken Shack hadn’t killed her dreams, nothing would.

“Camille!”, came the bark of sous chef Louis, “Baguettes. Where?”
The dirty scent of charred hobs and built-up grease emerged again like dirt being kicked up in a wind.
“Store #2, chef”, Camille watched as Louis marched round the back, his pointy chin leading the way. He wasn’t gone two seconds before a great shriek came from the store room.
“Camiiiiile”.
Despite being short and stubby, Louis could be intimidating when he wanted to be. When he was dragging you curtly by the arm to a messy store room was one of those times.
“Get this mess cleaned up at once!”
He thrust a mob and bucket into her arms, sloshing some leftover water laced with a thin film of chicken grease onto her shirt. Trying not to balk, she set down the bucket, topped it off with some fresh soapy water, and began to clean the room.

The bucket quickly turned black, the soap dancing delicately around a blanket of scum. Camille grimaced, trying desperately not to breathe through her nose, as she picked up the bucket and headed to the alley.

The door was usually stiff, so, with her hands planted firmly on the mop bucket, she barged it hard with her shoulder. Too hard, it turns out, as the door gave easily and she tripped over the step and tumbled mop bucket forward into the alley.

* *

Al’s eyes and the cuts on his belly stung curtly as a torrent of soapy water washed over him. He yelled out in a series of pained yips, and he slipped on the sudsy pebbles as he tried to run away. Through the blur, he heard the patter of Scarface’s feet as he slipped back into the air duct and back to the nest. For a moment came Elvis’s panicked cries, but this was soon hushed by Scarface.

Camille dropped the bucket with a clang on the alley floor. She nearly tripped right over Al but managed to keep her balance.
“Oh my, you poor thing”.
He looked a sorry sight, he tried to stand back up but a mixture of the slick pebbles and his dwindling energy wouldn’t let him. Camille looked around for something to catch him with, and had to make do with a torn piece of tarp from the dumpster. She scooped him up, avoiding his weak attempts to bite her, and didn’t even take a glance behind her before running to find the nearest Pokémon centre.

Continue to part II!

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Stories

The Horror – Part 3 (A Venusaur Story)

Story by Jack Bumby.

This is part 3 of this story. If you haven’t read parts, one or two, check them out first!

Venusaur Gravestone
The anger in its eyes was replaced by weariness. It was tired of the fight. Image credit: Laurie MacQueen

“SAUUUUUUUUUUR!”

The sound burst from the foliage, sending a flock of Pidgeys shooting above the canopy. It was coming from beyond the vast muddy tract to the side of the shanty village.

“Get somewhere safe, if you know what’s good for you,” I shouted to the men and women, in their black hoods. I noticed that a small red ‘R’ had been sewn into a few of them. Rebranding was right.

“Good luck,” the grunt I was talking to spat.

“Just stay down. You lot have done enough.” I gestured over my shoulder. “Growlithe, with me.” She jumped down from the boat and stood by my side. In that moment I thanked the stars I wouldn’t have to make my way over the crest of that dark hillock by myself. I walked forward, the Venusaur roared once more, urging me into a run. Growlithe stayed by my heels, keeping speed with my swift, heavy footsteps.

*

We were up the hill in seconds and, upon reaching the top, I realised the scale of the operation. In a semi-circle that reached about a mile in diameter, every tree had been decimated so not even a stump remained. In the middle of this, a huge ribbon of land had been cut out and filled with metal and concrete. Judging from what the guy at the dock had said, this was just the entrance too. No doubt there was an entire network of tunnels and pipes below me. For a moment, I thought I could feel the thrum of the machinery coursing through the ancient ground. Or perhaps it was the scarred, violated ground itself, screaming out. Before I could ponder this, that booming cry let out once more.

“SAUUUUUUUUUUR!”

About a quarter of the way around the vast semicircle, the trees shook. It reminded me of the supportive groups of Dugtrio we’d seen on our descent into this wretched place. Though I knew that the thing coming out of the trees was something permeated with uncompromising anger, not the kind, cooperative spirits of the burrowing Pokémon we’d seen the day before.

“SAUUUUUUUUUUR!”

And could I blame it for being angry? This was its home, had no doubt been its home for decades, and it was being devastated. Not only that, but it had been forced to stand by and watch as other Pokémon were subjected to the cruellest kinds of servitude. Of course it would intervene, how could ‘Team Rocket’ have expected anything less?

“SAUUUUUUUUUUR!”

I’d spent so long battling and training Pokémon, focusing on my next big win and the next big pay out, that it had long slipped my mind that Pokémon were living creatures with their own spirits and ways of life.

“SAUUUUUUUUUUR!” This final cry was the closest yet. And as that fact occurred to me, and my hat was blown from my head, the Venusaur burst through the treeline. The Venusaur I’d trekked into hell to capture, the Pokémon I was being paid to subdue. Only now I realised that either the forgettable man in his minimalist office had been mistaken or, more likely, he had lied. This was no ordinary Venusaur. I’d done my research, and I’d seen more than my share of Venusaur in my time – battled a few too. They usually stood at around six foot, this one was over eight. It was also the oldest Pokémon I’d ever seen. It almost looked like it was part of the forest, moss and leaves clung to its hide, small flowers bloomed to accompany the gigantic tree on its back. It stood now, just out of the canopy, observing the latest damage. I gestured for Growlithe to remain where she was. She obliged, but looked at me as if to say I hope you know what you’re doing. I took a gulp, crouched down a little lower, steeled myself, and approached it.

*

It let out another blistering roar as I approached, but this one seemed more for show. It didn’t seem to see me as a threat. Though, I realised when I was in spitting distance, things might be a heck of a lot different if I was in a Team Rocket get-up. Moving my hand upwards, the Venusaur bent down to receive it. I stroked its muzzle. It rumbled contently.

“I’m not like the others. I was sent here to capture you,” I began. In its eyes I saw brief panic, or anger, but I continued as quickly as I could. “But I won’t be doing that. I’ve seen what they’ve done to your home, and I can’t bring it back. I’m sorry, but we’re fighting forces beyond our comprehension.” It looked dismayed at this, and turned to go back into the forest. I called after it, “But I know where you can exist peacefully. A place where you can live your last few years in quiet serenity.”

“Sauuuuur?” Its voice was gentler now. It turned back around. The anger in its eyes was replaced by weariness. It was tired of the fight. I knew that a warrior like that could never back down from a battle. But this particular battle was close to killing it.

“And,” I smiled at it, “There’s no reason we can’t tear this place down on our way out.”

*

Venusaur made short work of the construction site. Once I’d identified the weak spots and pointed them out, its vines made the laboratory into a pit of nothing more than rubble. It wouldn’t stop the construction, but it would slow it down. Though, if we were lucky, the cost implications would be too great for Team Rocket and the whole operation might be written off.

“Let’s go,” I said, to Growlithe and Venusaur, “There’s a boat waiting and an army between us and it.”

I soon found that my warning was premature. Once down the hill, Venusaur obliterated any resistance. In a flurry of vines it dispatched all the grunts, sending them flying into the water downriver. One lucky grunt managed to throw a Pokémon before being thrown screaming into the murky eddy. It was a Houndoom, and it may have even been a Mega Houndoom. I never got chance to find out. Growlithe and I looked on, stunned, as Venusaur sent out a scorching Solar Beam which sent the dark Pokémon fleeing into the underbrush.

*

The battle was nothing compared to getting that great, lumbering creature onto the S.S. Cactus. The Captain mimed a dramatic fainting motion when I began leading the mossy giant on board. But we managed it, with the help of the First Mate and about a dozen, freed Machamp, Machoke, and Machop. Once accomplished, Growlithe rubbed against my leg.

“You didn’t do so bad yourself girl,” I said, before retiring to our cabin.

*

The sun had come up. The sound of the Vermilion City port drifted closer.

“What happened then?” Jaime asked. I was surprised she’d stayed awake.

“Well I never heard from Team Rocket again. Though soon after returning home, I found that I was no longer welcome to participate in the Pokémon League, which was surely their doing. But I discovered on that journey back up the river, as the sounds of Pokémon conversing and playing drifted into my cabin, that battling was no longer the life for me. I’d find my purpose doing something to benefit all Pokémon, something worthwhile. Even now, decades later, I don’t know if I’ve found it yet. But Growlithe (now Arcanine) and I have had one heck of a time searching.”

The group sat around me smiled. I looked at Arcanine as she dozed. She’d heard all this before.

“As for that Venusaur, she lived out her final years in complete peacful harmony, surrounded by younger Pokémon who would often sit around in a circle and listen to her stories. I never told anyone where I’d taken her, but I still visit now and then to pay my respects to the Pokémon that changed my life.”

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10)

Venusaur (#3)

There is a sense of mystery around them to which their slow, reflective nature only adds. Image Credit: Takamizawa Usui

Venusaur are mighty and sacred individuals, often nicknamed King of the Forest. Often the star of myths and legends, wild Venusaur often remain motionless for years at a time and only stir at times of crisis.

It was once thought that Venusaur was part psychic type because of its innate awareness of its environment, but scientists are now discovering that Venusaur may be able to connect to the mycorrhizal network of the forest, a connection that can span miles around.

Where to find one

Venusaur are rare in the wild and extremely powerful. On top of this, there is always the moral question as to whether you should catch a wild one. Ivysaur only evolve into Venusaur one at a time and they do so to become protectors of the forest. Scientists are only just discovering just how deeply these Pokémon are connected to their forest homes. Each Ivysaur accepts this special mission and will not be readily prepared to stop its cause.

I have known a few instances where Venusaur capture was necessary. In one awful case, a fire ravaged a whole woodland beyond repair. The council decided to build on the land and turn it into a Pokémon retreat, but the Venusaur in charge of that area was so distraught that he’d let down the Pokémon he was destined to protect, he quickly fell into depression. I, and a team of breeders, was asked to help him. We decided he needed specialist care. We found a trusted trainer to capture him and take him to a therapist. It took him a few years of dedicated care, but the Venusaur is doing well! Last I knew he started his own nursery.

A Venusaur’s power is very hard to tame. It takes a long time for this Pokémon to fully respect you if you catch it from the wild. For all of these reasons and more, I would instead recommend raising an Ivysaur to evolve to Venusaur. Though, I would only advise this for battle purposes. Venusaur is a hard-to-manage breed that have a lot of specific requirements. Think very carefully about the reasons you have for evolving him before doing so. Ivysaur live long, happy lives without needing to evolve and it comes quite natural to them.

Scientists are now discovering that Venusaur may be able to connect to the mycorrhizal network of the forest. Image credit: Marta Maszkiewicz

Raising for battle

Ivysaur evolve to become Venusaur at level 32. After they evolve, they can learn the moves Worry Seed, Synthesis, Petal Blizzard and Solar Beam. Of these, Ivysaur only learns one of these, so there is a benefit to evolving for battle. If you’re planning on delaying, I’d recommend evolving no later than 45 for learning Synthesis. Worry Seed can probably be missed, especially if you’ve kept Bulbasaur’s Sleep Powder and are happy with the accuracy.

Venusaur have immense power and can be a great battle partner. However, long gone are the days of sporty Ivysaur, and your Venusaur will tire very quickly in battle. Don’t use him against anything that uses speed, as you’ll be at a disadvantage. That’s not to say that his moves are slow, just his movement. Razor leaf, Petal Blizzard and Solar Beam are all intense, fast-paced attacks that Venusaur can perform with exceptional accuracy.

Keeping Venusaur happy and healthy

Venusaur need a lot of care, especially when they get older. They often find it difficult to move and will need consistent leg-strengthening exercises to maintain full mobility. It is advisable that you hire a personal trainer for your Venusaur, who will be able to plan a personalised activity plan to meet his specific needs.

If you have raised your Venusaur from an Ivysaur and wish to continue his development, I’d recommend stopping agility course training and begin wellness training. This is a new concept that was helping develop a few years ago. Essentially, a study into Venusaur battle statistics found that young Venusaur who had regular battle training were just as effective in battle as middle-aged Venusaur who had many more years of time to hone their skills. It is thought that by age 53 or so, Venusaur reaches its peak in terms of power. This makes some biological sense, as it is the time when he learns Solarbeam, his most powerful attack.

Wellness training comprises a mixture of grooming (leaf / claw trimming and exfoliating the skin), plant care (using fertiliser, nutrient food additives and carefully planned water / sunlight schedules) and mental development (puzzles, socialisation and work). This might not sound like training, but these all keep Venusaur happy and focused, which have shown some promising results in battle.

It is advisable to take some courses in plant care, as Venusaur’s plant will need similar care to exotic species

Overall

As a breeder, you come to gain a lot of respect for Venusaur and it truly is a miracle to see one. There is a sense of mystery around them to which their slow, reflective nature only adds. Venusaur are immensely powerful Pokémon that need a lot of care. They show great courage in battle, but often get tired and show their age.

It took him a few years of dedicated care, but the Venusaur is doing well! Last I knew he started his own nursery. Image credit: Laurie MacQueen
Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Makes and Fun Spots

A Beginner’s Guide to Ivysaur Training


Keep your Ivysaur in top running order by keeping them active. Image Credit:
Jozanto Soe Aung

Ivysaur sure have a lot of energy! All that vigour can get misdirected into destructive behaviour if you don’t give your Ivysaur regular, rigourous exercise. One excellent way to do that is training using agility courses. This guide will show you some of the best Ivysaur workouts and the equipment you can get to help.

Why Agility is Awesome

Ivysaur are best at using the field to their advantage, but their stocky build can cause a lot of drag. Keep your Ivysaur in top running order by keeping them active. Some benefits to using an agility course include:

  • Agility is all about high-paced controlled movement, which will help tremendously in battle. The course will also give Ivysaur a mental workout by learning how to use each piece of equipment
  • Agility training helps develop your communication with Ivysaur, as you learn to give accurate and precise orders
  • This training technique can also be fun party piece! Your Ivysaur will love showing off his moves just as much as you’ll enjoy demonstrating your strong trainer skills

What is an Agility Course?

An agility course consists of a set of equipment, called ‘contacts’. There are typically 12-18 obstacles in a complete professional course, but you should start with one or two and build up. This guide will show the top five pieces of agility equipment and explain how to use them.

Tunnels

Tunnels are an easy way to train for speed, focus and listening to instructions. It is one of the simplest to teach.

It starts with trust. Your Ivysaur must believe that the dark, enclosed space is safe to go into, and that nothing scary is lurking inside. In the wild, Ivysaur tend to sleep out in the open, choosing to use camouflage rather than shelter. Small spaces are not his forte. In addition, natural ‘tunnels’ such as hollow tree logs and caves are often heavily guarded by the Pokémon living inside.

Begin by putting some of your Ivysaur’s favourite treats or toys near the entrance of the tunnel. Let him explore by himself at first and don’t introduce commands just yet. Every time he goes near the entrance of the tunnel (or better, inside) give him lots of praise. He should get the message.

Getting your Ivysaur to travel all the way through a tunnel may take lots of patience and repetition. Start with a short tunnel, and place treats throughout. If you’re lucky, he’ll just head straight through following the treats. If not, team up with someone else your Ivysaur is familiar with (perhaps a family member or human / Pokémon  friend. You encourage him to go in the tunnel, while your friend encourages him to go out the other end. Gradually lengthen the tunnel, and once he has the hang of it you can start introducing bends.

To step it up, make or buy a multi-branch tunnel. Use colour markers to indicate which branch you want him to follow. Another customisation level of advanced courses is to create hills and drops in your tunnel.

Jumps

Ivysaur aren’t natural jumpers. They much prefer to have all four feet planted to the ground. However, jumping is a great way to build body strength. You can use skipping ropes, hoops, jumping fences, or just set up logs at different heights. I have found most success with the latter, but my trainer friends all have their favourites.

I once trained an Ivysaur for a Pokémon Ranger who was looking to put on an event at the park. His Ivysaur was getting restless and his trainer had decided to make him part of the show. They had a series of hoops they wanted the Ivysaur to jump through, but he just couldn’t get up that high. The more they tried to encourage him, the more worried he got until it was almost at breaking point. I always think about him to help me remember that slow and steady is the best course.

I moved the hoop very low to the ground so that Ivysaur would only have to step through. I then tempted him with little pieces of orange – his favourite treat. We did that a few times a day for a week, then I slowly stepped it up so he’d have to do a little hop through the hoop. Using little baby steps like this helped to improve his confidence. After that, my ranger friend was able to take over. We managed to get that Ivysaur jumping through hoops in less than two months, just in time for the show.

Ramps

Training an Ivysaur to use a ramp is a very useful trick. Not only is it a key item for endurance training in an agility course, but it can also help prepare elderly Ivysaur for transportation in and out of cars.

Ramps are very easy to train. The only issue, really, will come if your Ivysaur is afraid of heights. It is essential that you address this fear first before introducing a timid Ivysaur to a high ramp: even if it doesn’t look all that high to you!

An Ivysaur’s fear can be tackled very similar to human fear. Try to slowly desensitise him to the situation. Is he afraid of going up stairs? Try and encourage him to go up step by step. Then, see if he will look over the banister. If the fear is persistent, you could try using a hypnotherapist or Pokémon therapist to find out the cause of the issue. The ones that incorporate other Pokémon into the treatment are best, unless your Ivysaur is a good drawer.

Targets

Targets are one of the best training methods if your aim is for battling, as well as exercise. Your Ivysaur should be quite talented at hitting targets already, as he has known Vine Whip from level 7 or so. Your job is to make things more difficult. Here are some ways to create a more dynamic target practice:

  • Attach targets to a washing line (one of those that moves on a pulley system) and move the targets back and forth. Alternatively, install a pole in your training grounds and do the same, but vertically
  • Use AI-based targets (you can get these from some Pokémarts) where they make sounds or light up. You can programme different layouts, and even set it to music for a new challenge
  • Use the clay discs used in clay pigeon shooting as targets. You could also use a frisbee
  • Hide some targets around the house or garden and tell Ivysaur to make a muddy vine print when he finds them. This won’t train for hitting targets, but is is a unique way to help him use his brain
  • Use a tennis ball machine to train quick reaction times. Make sure it is not pointed directly at your Ivysaur, but just to the left or right of him

Weave Poles

Weave Poles improve dexterity and precision. They also look great in shows, if you get several Ivysaur doing it one after another. If you time it right, you can get one little head poking out to the right, while his follower pokes his head to the left. Always makes me giggle.

Teaching weave poles is one of the more challenging to train, as your Ivysaur can’t just explore by himself. Start him to the first pole is at his right shoulder, and put a treat to the right of it. As he goes for the first treat, put another on the left of the next pole. Hopefully, he will walk in the right direction. Once he gets the hang of it, introduce some sort of cue. I wave my hand in a little S shape, like a snake wriggling through grass. You only need to do this when he is at the start of the weave.

You can practice weaving out and about by getting your Ivysaur to weave in and out of your legs when taking wide steps. Remember, though, that the outside world has many exciting distractions and your Ivysaur may not be as focused as he is in the environment of your home or training ground.

Generation #1 · Stories

In the Clearing (A Bulbasaur Story)


Yes, these were indeed Bulbasaur. Not just one but hundreds. Image Credit: BlueBerryBlanket (Al Rigby)

One of the best parts of being a Pokémon Breeder is the field research: getting out there and seeing where Pokémon come from. Our natural world provides many great spectacles, from the grand migrations of Tauros to the Butterfree mating seasons. But one of the more precious to me was the time I saw a Bulbsaur family gathering.

I’d not seen another person in four days and my supplies were all but run out. It was ridiculous, really. People went in and out of Viridian forest all of the time and got out ok. Some people sometimes nipped in for a dare. That’s how easy it is meant to be. I’m not even sure what wrong turning I made, and I think it just made it worse when I tried to back-track. The longer I walked, the darker the forest got.

I sipped a little water from my flask, swilling it around in my mouth a little before swallowing to try make it last then instantly craving more and taking another sip. I peered at my map. None of the lines made sense anymore. They were purely fictional, as if my sister Kate had taken one of her marker pens and scribbled all over it with that mischievous grin on her face. Thinking of her hurt. It hadn’t even occurred to me when setting out that I may not see Kate or mum again.

But this is what a great trainer did! Just set off into the unknown with a Pokémon, finding distant treasures and uncovering mysteries. This was just another grand escapade. I felt that well-worn surge of excitement thinking about it. Journeying with a Pokémon was something I had wanted all my life. Some people were destined to be dancers, some accountants. Me? I was born to be a Pokémon trainer.

I thought of all the Pokémon I would catch and my hand relaxed on the Pokéball at my belt. The joy melted into shame. I wasn’t a trainer. I was a thief. I was only just ten and not old enough to get my own. The Manectric in the ball was my mum’s. Earlier in my travels, I had let her out while pretending to catch a Pokémon with the ball. Boy did she bark at me. You take me back this minute. You’ll be in such trouble when you get home! Where are we? You left without my chew toy? she said in as many barks. It took her a day or two to mellow out, by which point she was more concerned than angry.

I looked around at the deepening shadows and a feeling of paranoia began to creep up on me. I’m here, it would say in the creaking of a branch or the twitch of grass as some creature was startled by my clumsy footwork. I got jumpy and kept glancing left and right into the trees. Behind each stump, a wolf would be lurking ready to eat me up like in Little Red Riding Hood. My my, Elizabeth, these sharp teeth of mine are all the better to eat you with my dear. In the end, I couldn’t stand being alone any longer and I grabbed the Pokéball from my belt.

“Come out Manectric”, I said in almost a whisper. As she appeared, her presence instantly soothed me. She has always been small for her breed, but she towered over me when I was ten year’s old. I petted her long yellow snout. She yawned, made a little sigh and looked up at the trees.

“Maybe we’ll find our way out today”, I said already feeling lighter. I almost believed it.

We pressed on, heads pushed down by the rain that somehow battered its way through the canopy. The trees twisted and writhed in the sort of way that would make a fearless girl grin from ear to ear before dashing off in a race to the top. But that wasn’t me anymore. Not here in this place. The trees no longer just reached over us, but below and around us. They encased us in their bony rib cage as we moved ever closer to the heart of the forest.



The trees no longer just reached over us, but below and around us. Image credit: Marta Maszkiewicz.

My watch said it was mid-day, but it was getting darker. It was like we were in a different world entirely to the one I’d left back home. It didn’t seem right that Kate would be sitting in the school cafeteria, drinking milk and complaining to the dinner lady about not losing weight. That annoying kid Jaime would be pulling another prank, Eliza would be singing with Chloe in their band that they won’t let me join. My life was none of those things anymore. My life was only dark tunnels of never-ending mossy rocks and things that squirmed in the dark.

As I walked, my thoughts washed over me. In my head, people I used to know came walking out of the trees, tipped their hats muttering hello, hey, hi there, and good morning before continuing on into the murky darkness. My father was sitting on one branch, sipping a pint of milk. My mother on another, knitting a spider’s web. I imagined cats running passed my legs, street lamps, a school bus coming down the lane towards me. This last one seemed to stay with me. I could almost see the headlights ahead and my arm tensed, ready to flag it down.

I was snapped out of my daydream by Manectric licking my hand and yapping. She barked and ran ahead. My eyes followed her and I could see what she was headed towards. The bus headlights were real. Or, rather, the light was real. A circle of dazzling light shining like a beacon.

I’m not sure how I managed to stay on my feet as I ran, but my need to see sunlight urged me on. As it got close, my hopes got brighter. As I reached the edge of the treeline, I was almost ecstatic. Which, of course, made it all the more crushing when I crashed out into nothing more than a clearing. Just a clearing with a large flowered tree in the centre that was swaying in the breeze. I fell to my knees and wept, Manectric snuffling at my face and softly licking my tears.

I was too tired to go on. Not only did we not have any food, but we still had no way to tell where we were. Perhaps mum would have told Officer Jenny by now. Out there in the woods would be a search party seeking me with their torch beams. I found a patch of dry moss at the edge of the clearing and settled in to sleep.

When I woke, it was dark. I’d been having a dream of a Pokémon singing. I’d been running through the forest, pushing back leaves trying to find it. Bulllbbaaaa it sang Bulllbbaaaa. As I opened my eyes, I realised I could still hear that gentle hum. I felt Manectric stir beside me. She was crouched down low, peering through some tall tufts of grass looking out onto the clearing. Bulllbbaaaa. I crawled up next to her and looked out too.

Before us was a sea of bobbing turquoise heads. They circled the clearing, facing towards the flowered tree. Could these be… Bulbasaur? I tried to remember back to my time in Professor Oak’s lab. He had been working on breeding easy-to-train rare Pokémon for new trainers as part of his research. I’ve never been much of a scientist, but I did remember him showing me a Bulbasaur. And if my memory served me correctly, yes, these were indeed Bulbasaur. Not just one but hundreds.

I looked to the weird tree in the centre of the clearing. While before it was swaying, now it was shifting side-to-side. I looked from the flower to its trunk. From the trunk to its roots. Only, the roots were rising and falling. That thing was breathing! Amazed, I scooted forward some more to get a better look, but Manectric held my collar. The Bulbasaur stopped singing in one fell swoop. It was like I’d suddenly lost my hearing. Everything was just silent.

I worried it was me. I had a vision of them all turning round to look at me, raising their vines to attack. They did turn around, but not to look at me. From a grassy verge to our left, a taller, broader Bulbasaur pushed his way out of the thicket. He looked different from the others. Much bigger, for one. I noticed he had a little flower on his back, similar to the big breathing tree. No, not a Bulbasaur. An evolution of some sort.

The crowd of Bulbasaur made a path for this creature, some touching its feet with their vines as he passed. He walked up to the flowery tree and stopped. Ivysaur, it declared. Short and sweet.

With that, the clearing began to rumble. The Bulbasaur waved their vines in the air, branches snapped, rubble flew everywhere and I had to shield my eyes. When I was able to look again, I gawped. The tree had rose two metres into the air, revealing a huge monstrous body beneath. It had been lying so long that the trees had grown around it. It left a crater where it has arisen from. VENUSAUUUUUR, it bellowed.

At this, cries and shouts of Bulbasaauuur sounded from the crowd. The forest king freed several vines from its back and reached towards the Ivysaur. The Ivysaur, too, outstretched its vines and they met in the middle. Each called its name to the other and the Bulbasaur began throwing white powder into the air that sparkled in the moonlight. They all went back to their chanting: Bulllbbaaaa, Bulllbbaaaaaa. Some spores landed on me and I went to brush them off. A sudden weariness hit me and I could barely keep my eyes open. The last thing I saw before drifting to sleep was the giant Venusaur turning and disappearing into the forest depths and Ivysaur taking his place.

Generation #1 (1-10)

Bulbasaur (#1)

Bulbasaur
Fruit can be given periodically as a treat. Image credit: Takamizawa Usui.

Bulbasaur are typically sensible beings and are known for their caretaking abilities. Mine finds great pleasure in maintaining his (very orderly) garden and looking after my baby niece, Clara. Many a time, I’ve seen him gently rock her cradle and sing the Bulba-by and it brings joy to my heart each time. I think it might be part of their communal nature. If you ever go to Kanto and are lucky enough to happen upon an evolution ceremony, you will know what I mean.

Where to find one

The only chance you’ll get to catch a Bulbasaur in the wild is at their gatherings, which occur once a year. However, I really wouldn’t advise this. A Bulbasaur-Ivysaur-Venosaur community is very wary and secretive. In fact, they can be so elusive that it is extremely difficult for trainers to find the meeting place. Not only are they held in the depths of very hard-to-reach forests, but their groups contain a good mixture of low- and high-level individuals. Those energetic Ivysaur might just decide you could be their next best plaything. And then there’s the all-mighty protectors of the forest, Venusaur, who will no doubt try and chase you off if you cause a stir.

If you do find a gathering, be courteous. I’ve always found if you respect nature, it won’t bother you. That seems to be the case here. I’ve been lucky enough to catch the ceremony once or twice and it is such a spectacle. If you are an experienced trainer and intend on catching a Bulbasaur at one of these events, it is best to wait until after proceedings have died down. Slowly approach a group near the edge of the clearing and clearly state your intentions. If one is willing to take you on, let the battle commence! If not, either ask another group or try again next year. Some things are worth waiting for.

For all but the most experienced trainers, the best way to get a Bulbasaur companion is to talk to a breeder. When you first meet the brood, make sure to look for one of the individuals that is playing with its litter-mates, sunbathing, or energetically undertaking a private hobby. A young Bulbasaur should never be isolated or standing in a corner. If you see this behaviour, please tell the breeder. It may mean they have to alter their training.

Preparing the home

A Bulbasaur’s social life is a complex one. At heart, one caught from the wild is extremely social and caring but they can also be quite aloof and stand-offish. That’s because they live alone or in small family groups for most of the year, in the wild. The gatherings I spoke about are very special occasions.

Don’t be fooled, though. Just because your Bulbasaur is aloof doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. Bulbasaur communities know each individual extremely well. They learn to recognise each other by their unique facial and body markings, as well as their scent, powders, and impressions they make in the grass. So, don’t get too unnerved if your new Bulbasaur stares at you a lot or inspects where you’ve just been sitting on the sofa. He’s just trying to work you out.

Gardening
Encourage your Bulbasaur to take up a hobby, like gardening. Image credit: Marta Maszkiewicz.

Speaking of their powders, or spores, be prepared for the house to be covered with them! A Bulbasaur uses its powders as a way of scent marking – the way a cat might mark a couch by scratching or a dog by peeing on a hydrant. That means that in the early days, you won’t be able to go a day without finding it everywhere like white feathery snow. Don’t worry, it’s not poisonous at this stage. However, be sure to train your friend to stop marking the house if you’re planning on teaching him moves like Poison Powder or Sleep Powder.

When introducing a new Bulbasaur to your home, you want to make sure he has his own private space where he cannot be disturbed. This will preferably be in a sunny spot in the garden or by a south-facing window. Buy him a few potted plants and encourage him to care for them, and make sure he has access to rainwater at least once a week. If you live in an arid area, you might want to buy a water butt and save some up for him. Tap water isn’t the worst thing in the world, but they can get a little sickly if they get no rainwater at all.

Raising for battle

Bulbasaur is a grass-poison Pokémon and its fighting moves largely revolve around its vines and powders.

If you want to focus on powder-based moves such as Poison Powder, Sleep Powder, Worry Seed and Seed Bomb, you’ll want to encourage him to scent-mark. To save your house, try picking out a designated training area and place something with his scent on at each corner. You can buy specially generic pre-scented flags from your local Pokémart if that’s easier. Next, you’ll need to familiarise yourself with the types of powder. You can actually use his diet to influence the types produced. Feed him Deadly Nightshade, Castor Bean, or Water Hemlock (these are deadly to humans, so treat with utmost care) to encourage his poison spores, or Lavender and Jasmine to strengthen his sleep spores.

The physical moves like Take Down, Vine Whip, Razor Leaf, and Double Edge will be easier to train. Bulbasaur are quite intelligent and eager-to-please so this should be fairly easy to do with a couple sandbag training dolls, targets and treats.

Keeping Bulbasaur happy and healthy

Whether you’re training for battle or just raising as a pet, it is very important for Bulbasaur to sunbathe. I can’t stress this enough. Being a plant-based creature, one of Bulbasaur’s energy sources is the sun (photosynthesis). Make sure your Bulbasaur gets at least half an hour a day of peak-time sunlight in summer and triple that in winter. If you live in a cloudy, rainy place like I do you could buy an incandescent light but this is in no way a full substitute. Bulbasaur that cannot get enough sunlight must be given nutritional supplements. You can get advice from your local Pokémart’s nutritionist.

As well as light, your Bulbasaur must also eat. He lives on a herbivorous diet of grass, legumes, and leafy greens. Fruit can be given periodically as a treat. Other plant-based things can be ok, too. For example, my Bulbasaur got a peculiar obsession with peanuts for a while. Just make sure that any extra food like this is given in moderation and watch their weight. No one wants a chubby bubby!

As I’ve mentioned, Bulbasaur are usually intelligent and benefit from hobbies. This varies from individual to individual, but activities I’ve seen include gardening, painting, baking, target practice (for particularly avid battlers), and even training other Pokémon! Their vines are quite dexterous and they can be very inventive. If your Bulbasaur is struggling to find something naturally, feel free to suggest some activities he may not have thought about. However, always let him choose and don’t try and force him into it.

Overall

Bulbasaur is said to be great for new trainers due to their devoted, caring nature and their will to please. I generally agree with this sentiment. However, as you have seen, there is a lot more to this bubbly soul and they have some pretty particular needs. Saying that, you’ll find no other Pokémon more willing to work together to overcome any hurdle.


Sleeping Bulbasaur
Sleeping Bulbasaur. Image credit: Olivia Bigelow.
  • Watch out for the first Bulbasaur story on 29th April!
  • For a Bulbasaur, Ivysaur, Venusaur Sonnet, click here (partner website).