10 Reasons Reptiles Are Real Life Pokémon

Since playing the Pokémon Yellow and Gold versions as a kid, I (like many other aspiring Pokémon trainers) dreamed what it would be like to live in a world with real life Pokémon. Now that we have Pokémon Go, the real world has merged with Nintendo’s Pokémon world. And I’m obsessed.

As I’ve returned to my contemplations of what the world would be like “if only Pokémon were real,” I’ve come to a realization: We live in a world chock full of incredible animals with amazing abilities. And many of them are reptiles. So if you put two and two together, reptiles are basically real life Pokémon!

Blog graphic - 10 Reasons Why Reptiles Are Real Life Pokemon

1. Incredible diversity

There are 151 Pokémon in Generation 1 alone. Combine that with Generations 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, and you have 721 Pokémon species to keep track of. Thank goodness for the Pokédex.

As of August 2015, there are approximately 10,079 species of reptile (lizards, snakes, turtles, tortoises, crocodilians, and tuataras). Gotta keep ’em all! (Well…maybe not all of them…)

2. Cool abilities

Okay, so maybe no reptile will ever be able to pull off Hyper Beam. But depending on the species, reptiles have an incredible set of abilities of their own.

  • Shooting blood from eyes (horned lizard)

  • Running on top of water (basilisk)
  • Injecting toxic venom (black mamba)
  • Constricting (anaconda)
  • Changing color (panther chameleon)
  • Heat vision (green tree boa)
  • Disappearing (Saharan sand viper)
  • Wrestling (iguana)

3. Different regions = different reptiles

The reptiles you find depends on your location. In the games, available Pokémon species varies by which region you’re in (Kanto, Johto, etc.), as well as what part of that region you’re in.

Same goes for reptiles as real life Pokémon. You’re not likely to find a New Caledonian giant gecko in the United States, nor a Great Basin rattlesnake in Saudi Arabia.

4. Some are more common than othersBeautiful green anaconda - reptiles are basically pokemon

Rat snakes and anoles are the Rattatas and Pidgeys of the reptile world. You can find them just about anywhere!

On the flip side, komodo dragons and green anacondas are the Dragonites and Gyarados.



5. Legendaries? You bet!

Legendary Pokémon are the ultra-rare ones. The reptile equivalent, then, would be endangered species– including my favorite, the tuatara! Check out a list of the world’s most legendary real life Pokémon here.

6. Rare morph = Shiny

Piebald crested gecko, the reptile equivalent of a Shiny Pokemon

Piebald crested gecko, produced by Pangea Reptile

A Shiny is a Pokémon in a different color than it is usually found in the wild. They are incredibly rare.

Reptiles come in a variety of morphs (colors), but some colors are much rarer than others. These are the Shiny Pokémon of the reptile world, and thanks to the hefty price tags, they’re just as hard to get.



7. Custom habitatsInside of a pokeball, like a mini terrarium

According to Bulbapedia: “While it is not known how caught Pokémon perceives their time inside their Ball, the device is said to replicate a ‘Pokémon-friendly’ environment that is ‘designed for comfort’. All of these factors strongly discourage Pokémon from escaping their Balls.”


Reptiles need to be kept in enclosures that mimic their natural environments, so in other words: terrariums = low-tech Pokéballs.


8. Trainers/Keepers come in all kinds

  • Beauty = Girl/boy who always posts selfies with their reptiles.
  • Biker = Keeps mostly snakes, especially large snakes.
  • Fisherman = Herper. Enjoys catching and releasing wild reptiles.
  • Gym Leader = Professional breeder, not to be confused with amateurs.
  • Pokémaniac = Collector who has wayyy too many reptiles, but no regrets.
  • Scientist = Herpetologist, likely teaches the subject at a local university.
  • Super Nerd = Knows everything there is to know about reptiles, but very socially awkward.
  • Tamer = Keeps mostly venomous reptile species, and loves to show them off.
  • Team Rocket = Reptile thieves and smugglers selling stolen and wild-caught animals.
  • Youngster = Kid with one beginner-level reptile. Expertise is likely low, but lots of potential.

More information about the reptile keeper equivalents can be found in my post about types of reptile keepers.

9. Some are already recognized as Pokémon

Since Pokémon Go focuses on Generation 1, so will I.

The starter Pokémon, Squirtle, is a generic turtle. Its evolutions Wartortle and Blastoise are modifications.

Squirtle as a turtle - real life pokemon

Ekans and Arbok are the most obvious reptile Pokémon; Ekans is a rattlesnake and Arbok is a cobra.

Ekans and Arbok - real life pokemon

Ekans by barkingaardvark . Arbok by Shivadesigning. Both images accessed via DeviantArt.

10. They form unique bonds with their trainers/keepers

Ash and his Pikachu - reptiles are basically Pokemon

The relationship between Ash Ketchum and his Pikachu is unparalleled. Reptiles may not be particularly affectionate, but they definitely bond with keepers who understand and respect them. Lemurr and _bmath_ on Instagram are amazing examples of reptile-keeper bonding.

It’s not always perfect (just think about how many times Pikachu has electrocuted Ash!), but it’s a constant journey toward better understanding reptiles as real life Pokémon.