15 Pokémon You Didn't Know Were Based On Real Life Creatures

In recent months, thanks to the app Pokémon Go, the Pokémon hype that first arose in the 90s has once again resurfaced. The animated series that was adored by many children growing up has been given its second life. The youngsters that were devoted to the show when they were kids are re-discovering their adoration for all things Pokémon. Now these fully grown adults, are able to wander around capturing their favorite Pokémon through their phones (talk about childhood dreams coming true). Not only this, but the entire franchise is being introduced to an entire new generation. Yes, many young kids who missed out on all the Pokémon hype the first time have been given the opportunity to discover it all for themselves.

So, with this resurgence of Pokémon, comes all the fun facts surrounding the show. One of the most interesting aspects of the show is the Pokémon creatures themselves. We all have our favorite Pokémon for our own personal reasons. What many of you may not realize though, is that these Pokémon, are very often based on real life animals. Yes, the inspiration for your favorite Pokémon had to come from somewhere, and many come from things already living in the world around you. This doesn’t just stop at animals though, as some Pokémon are actually inspired by plants.

This article will take a look at which animals inspired which Pokémon and what exact aspects of these animals Pokémon creators had in mind when creating the animated creatures. Some of the instances on the list you may have already been aware of, but some may be new to you. One thing is for sure, it’s very interesting to learn that Pokémon are not as far-fetched as one may have first assumed.

15 Caterpie/ Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

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The resemblance between these two creatures is almost uncanny. Whoever would have thought a cartoon creature could bear such a strong resemblance to something living? Caterpie being based on a caterpillar is quite obvious; however, the specific type of caterpillar the Pokémon is based on is known as an Eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillar. This type of caterpillar has all the same features as Caterpie, such as its bright green color, antennae and green and black eye. Fun fact though, the Eastern swallowtail caterpillar is actually blind; the yellow and black thing resembling an eye is just a mark on its skin. So does this mean Caterpie is blind too? The swallowtail caterpillar will eventually transform into a butterfly, similar to how Caterpie evolves into Metapod and then into Butterfree, a butterfly inspired Pokémon. Some of Caterpie’s battle moves include bug bite, tackle and string shot.

14 Magikarp/ Yellow-Eyed Rockfish

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Similar to Magikarp, the yellow-eyed rockfish is colored red and yellow. This type of fish, which is often referred to as the red snapper, is usually found along the East Pacific. They are found in rocky-bottomed areas and some of them even spend their entire lifetime in one specific rock pile. Amazingly, the yellow-eyed rockfish can live up to be 120 years old. Due to their large size and quality, yellow-eyed rockfish are often sought after by fishermen. It should be no surprise that Magikarp is found under the fish section in the Pokédex. All of Magikarp’s abilities revolve around water. Some of Magikarp’s moves include splash, tackle, flail and swift swim.

13 Poliwag/Translucent Tadpole

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In case you weren’t aware, the Pokémon Poliwag is based on real life tadpoles. Not just your typical tadpoles at that, but translucent tadpoles. This specific type of tadpole can be found in Costa Rica; their see through skin allows their organs and neatly wound intestines to be seen from the outside. Similar to Poliwag these creatures also have a spiral on their stomachs. So, if you were thinking that swirl on Poliwag’s stomach was just for design purposes, think again. Poliwag is most definitely based on this tadpole and is even listed under the tadpole section in the Pokédex. Poliwag is almost always seen swimming as its newly grown legs make it difficult to walk. For this reason, all of Poliwag’s abilities revolve around water such as water gun, bubble and rain dance.

12 Gorebyss/ Long-nosed Chimaera

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Gorebyss bears a striking resemblance to the Long-nosed Chimaera. The biggest resemblance between these two is their exceptionally long snouts. The chimaera has such a long snout in order to help it smell out food to eat, such as small fish. The snout has numerous sensory nerve endings which aids it in doing this. One thing Gorebyss does not have in common with the chimaera is its poisonous fin which it uses in cases of attack. The long-nosed chimaera is found in tropical seas all around the world. They range in size (anywhere between 60-140cm). Although the chimaera looks very similar to Gorebyss, one feature it does not share with the Pokémon is the shells that Gorebyss has attached to its sides and tail; and of course, the Chimaera isn’t pink. Gorebyss falls into the category of a South Sea Pokémon and is an evolved form of Clamperl. Some of Gorebyss’ moves include confusion, whirlpool, agility and draining kiss.

11 Drowzee /Malayan Tapir

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This rather odd looking Pokémon is inspired by the Malayan tapir. The Malayan tapir, despite its strange appearance, is said to be quite a kind creature. The Malayan tapir, also commonly known as the Asian tapir, is easy to identify due to the lighter patch that covers its back and lower body. Similar to this, Drowzee has a patch on its lower body, only darker than this upper body. Another distinct trait of the Malayan tapir, along with all tapirs in general, is the white marks that line their ears. The biggest resemblance between Drowzee and the Malayan tapir is their elephant-like trunks. Drowzee falls under the category of a hypnosis Pokémon, as he likes to access people’s dreams before, ehm, eating these dreams. Drowzee also possesses the ability to hypnotize and confuse his opponents. It’s safe to say the Malayan tapir does not possess these traits.

10 Emolga/Flying Squirrels

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If you’re like most people, then you are probably completely oblivious to the fact that there exists a certain breed of squirrel that can actually fly; these creatures are quite simply referred to as flying squirrels. Emolga, a Pokémon that falls into the category of a flying or electric Pokémon is based on these flying squirrels. Strangely, flying squirrels are technically not the best flyers, in the sense that they don’t possess the ability to fly in the same manner as a bird or a bat. Nevertheless, they are able to glide effortlessly from tree to tree with the use of a furry-like membrane that is attached from wrist to ankle. This membrane is very similar to the one that Emolga possesses and is probably the most striking similarity between the two. Unlike the flying squirrel, Emolga is able to store electricity in these membranes and use it to his advantage during battle. Some of Emolga’s abilities include thunder stock, spark and nuzzle.

9 Vileplume/ Rafflesia Arnoldii

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There is no denying the petals attached to Vileplume’s head are identical to those of the rafflesia arnoldii. The rafflesia arnoldii is famous in its own right, as it is the largest recorded flower in existence. This flower is often referred to as “the corpse flower”, due to its infamous odor of decaying flesh. This odor is regularly described by individuals as being unbearable. We don’t suspect Vileplume shares in the misfortune of possessing this potent smell. This large and odorous flower can be found in Indonesia. Vileplume, however, is not the only Pokémon thought to be based on the rafflesia arnoldii; it is widely suspected that Pokémon creators also took inspiration from the flower when they were creating the Pokémon known as Venusaur. This is due to the fact that Venusaur possesses a bulb on its back very similar in appearance to Vileplume the rafflesia arnoldii.

8 Victreebel/ Pitcher Plant

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Victreebel, which is probably one of the most terrifying Pokémon, is based on an even more terrifying plant called the pitcher plant. The pitcher plant gains its deadly reputation due to their manner in which it catches its prey. The pitcher plant lures insects inside due to a fluid it releases; once the insects are inside they become trapped and the plant begins to drain the nutrients from the insect’s body for its own use. As a Pokémon, Victreebel is not that much less terrifying; if his angry and rather odd appearance isn’t enough, his high attack level definitely makes him scary. Victreebel, is not that surprisingly, a grass and poison Pokémon; some of his abilities include grass knot, energy ball, solarbeam and venoshock.

7 Luvdisc/ Kissing gourami

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Luvdisc is definitely one of the most adorable Pokémon; this Pokémon is shaped in a heart and has a constant kissing mouth. This mouth is inspired by a fish called the kissing gourami, also referred to as the “kissing fish." This fish can be found in areas between Thailand and Indonesia, and is commonly featured in aquariums. Despite the gourami’s cute appearance, everything is not as it seems; the gourami’s mouth is actually shaped like that for biting purposes. So, if you see two gourami kissing they are actually just attacking each other. Yes, these fish are most certainly not as cute as they may initially appear. Like Luvdisc, the gourami are also pink in color, just not to the same extent as the Pokémon. Luvdisc falls into the category of a water Pokémon; its most famous abilities include surf, waterfall and dive.

6 Mudkip/ Axolotl

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Mudkip is arguably one of the most strangely put together Pokémon; not only does Mudkip have a fin as a tail, it also has one sprouting from its head. Along with this, the Pokémon has strange orange spikes attached to its cheeks. So if you were wondering how the idea of this Pokémon came about, look no further; that creature is known as the axolotl. The strange things on Mudkip’s face are inspired by the Axolotl’s facial structure. Even though the axolotl is also known as a “walking fish”, it is technically not a fish at all but an amphibian. Nevertheless, they are far from your usual amphibian as by the time they reach adulthood, they have still not undergone metamorphosis; so for this reason, axolotls do not develop lungs and live on land but instead still possess gills and remain aquatic. Mudkip is a water Pokémon; some of its abilities are ice beam, hail and rain dance.

5 Krookodile/ Gharial

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If you thought Krookodile’s distinctly large snout was just an over exaggeration of your average crocodile, then think again. There exists a type of crocodile known as a gharial, often referred to as a “fish-eating crocodile”, who possesses a snout every bit as large, if not bigger, than the snout found on the Pokémon. The gharial, which is one of the world’s longest surviving breed of crocodile, is native to the Northern part of the Indian Subcontinent. There is said to be only 235 gharials currently living in the world at the present moment; this number is so low due to a number of factors, including lack of fish resources, loss of riverine habitat and the danger of fishing nets. These creatures prefer to live in flowing rivers with high sandbanks which they use for building nests to inhabit. Krookodile is defined as a ground or dark Pokémon; some of Krookodile’s most well-known moves include bite, sand tomb, assurance, mud slap and earthquake.

4 Chatot/ Yellow-Collared Lovebird

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It’s plain to see the resemblance Chatot bears to the yellow-collared lovebird is a very strong one. The coloration of these two creatures is almost identical; both contain the colors blue, yellow, green and pink. The yellow-collared lovebird, which is often referred to as the masked lovebird or eye ring lovebird, belongs to the parrot family known as Psittaculidae. This type of bird can be found in Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi. Chatot falls into the category of a normal/flying Pokémon. Strangely, Chatot is not known to evolve into any other form of Pokémon, but rather stays in its original form. Chatot’s best moves include hyper voice, chatter, peck, fury attack and uproar.

3 Sandslash/ Pangolin

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There are numerous similarities between Sandslash and a Pangolin. Apart from being of similar color, Sandslash also has identical claws to a pangolin, along with sharing in the animal’s unique scaly exterior. Yes, Pokémon creators were indeed thinking of a pangolin when they came up with the idea of Sandslash. An interesting fact you may not know is that pangolins are actually the only mammals with keratin scales covering their skin; these scales are for protective purposes and help keep pangolins safe in times of danger. These creatures are also nocturnal and come out at night to capture their prey using their specially adapted long tongues. Pangolins are also known to be lone travellers and only come together to mate. Sandslash is defined as a ground Pokémon; some of its abilities include dig, earthquake, bulldoze and hyper beam.

2 Bulbasaur/ Frog


When it comes to Bulbasaur, it appears as if there is more than one inspiration behind this much loved Pokémon. The name Bulbasaur literally comes from combining the words bulb and dinosaur; so, for this reason many believe Bulbasaur to be based on a baby dinosaur. Not only this, but there obviously exists plant inspiration behind the creation of this Pokémon due to the vine-sprouting bulb attached to its back. Another inspiration behind Bulbasaur is thought to be a frog/toad, as the Pokémon also has similar features to these creatures. Bulbasaur is one of the most famous and recognized Pokémon in existence, as he is known for being one of Ash’s main Pokémon in the first season of the show, alongside the likes of Squirtle, Charmander and Pikachu. Bulbasaur is a grass/poison Pokémon; his abilities include vine whip, razor leaf and seed bomb.

1 Pikachu/Pika Mouse

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Pikachu is arguably the cutest Pokémon of all and Ash's personal favourite; however, if you weren’t aware, this much loved Pokémon was inspired by a very small mammal known as the pika mouse. It’s easy to see how this mouse inspired the creation of Pikachu as it is a very cute creature, in its own right. The pika family includes 30 different species, however, there only exists about 1,000 of these mice altogether. The Pika can be found in the isolated mountain regions of Asia, particularly in locations like China and Tibet. This mouse is often referred to as the ‘whistling hare’ due to the large piercing alarm call it makes. This is similar to the “pika pika” calls Pikachu is famously known to make; of course this only makes the Pokémon more adorable. One similarity the pika mouse does not possess is Pikachu’s tail, where the Pokémon famously generates its power. In fact, the pika mouse possesses no tail whatsoever.

Sources: Dorkly, Youtube, Wikipedia

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