Morphs [Oak Catalog #]
Notable BiologyThe Charmander line is often held up as a canonical example of Fire-type Pokémon, possessing a well-developed and proportionately-large dorsal pyrosac. The pyrosac collects dissolved fats and other digested complex hydrocarbons, treating them with catalytic cracking enzymes which break them up into liquid and compressible gas forms. Mature specimens (Charmeleon or evolution-inhibited Charmander) develop a side pocket in the anterior section of the pyrosac, where thickening agents are added to their fuel to create what is popularly, if inaccurately, referred to as their "napalm". The pyrosac has an anterior duct leading into the throat, where the fuel and/or "napalm" can be aerosolized into the stream of exhaled air, facilitating the species' fire breath. (TBD: Where are the igniter cells, here?) The cracking enzymes will eventually break down the fuel into lighter gases such as methane. To prevent unhealthy gas pressure from building up, and to prevent the light gases from interfering with the performance of the fire breath, the lighter gases are directed through a posterior duct to the tip of the tail. At the tip of their tail, the gas from the duct is fed to numerous minuscule exit pores, each lined with thick-walled igniter cells. This produces the continuous tailflame that is the Char family's signature characteristic. The flame burns vigorously, and dissolved oxygen introduced into the gas makes it difficult to extinguish even intentionally. Often, the only time it's seen to go out is when the Char itself dies, spawning the urban legend that the extinguishment is itself the cause of death. While the temperature shock is quite painful, it is not inherently lethal. Charmeleon and Charizard claws are incredibly hard, and coupled with strong arm muscles and tendons are capable of digging into stone for climbing or burrowing. The Charizard stage has developed wings, easing travel in their native mountain-filled/volcanic region. They tend to congregate near lava outlets, which provide reliable updrafts.
HabitatThe Charmander family is concentrated around the Kanto region. They are usually found upon smaller mountains, where there is little flammable vegetation, with rodents and other small animals available for hunting. Charizard may dig dens for themselves and offspring by crushing rocks or blasting the mountainside with flames. Some of the species have been artificially introduced to other places, like volcanic islands or large valleys.
DietThe Char line is carnivorous and ravenous, due to the need to keep their tail fires fueled. As such, they are more expensive to keep than, say, a Bulbasaur; however, the bulk of their required nutrition can be supplied by ordinarily-undesirable scraps of trimmed fat, which can be obtained at a discount from many butchers. When meat is scare, many waxes, such as paraffin, can be used as a substitute. Wild Charmander often prey on small creatures, and have been witnessed using their fire to bring down prey slightly bigger than themselves. As their digestive system is not fully developed yet, they tend to cook their food with their own Embers before eating; this is non-optimal, however, as useful complex hydrocarbons may be burned away. To help ensure a reliable flame supply for battles or contests, it is recommended to instead boil your Charmander's meat and use a digestion assistive. Charmeleon are extremely intelligent and willing to work together to bring down large prey. They often resort to Fire Fang attacks while darting in and out with quick strikes. At this stage, though, they will consume most of their prey raw. Domestic Charmeleon no longer require their meat prepared, though boiling or microwaving for sanitary reasons remains a good idea. Charizard are capable hunters and tend to go after larger prey, including Cervids and Bovines that may be raised near their mountain homes. For simple cost reasons, many trainers will need to allow their Charizard to feed on wild prey; consult with a local game warden to know what hunting is permissible. Although it's not nearly as important to their diet as to the diets of most Pokémon, Charmander nonetheless possess a fondness for fruit- especially apples, which they will often share among a group of nearby friends. Most Charmeleon and Charizard will repress their enthusiasm, but do appear to appreciate a fruit dessert.
HazardsCharmander are known for their bright, sweet natures, but like many babies they enjoy chewing on objects, and if left unchecked this can lead into a permanent bad habit. It's one thing when a cute Charmander chews up the doormat, quite another when a full-grown Charizard decides that the local lamp post would make an excellent toothpick. You should always have a series of safe "Char-toys" (ask at your local Poke Mart or Day Care) in the household and discipline your Charmander properly when you catch it chewing things it shouldn't. Charmander will inevitably try to test out the strength of their flame; this is a natural behaviour, but you can teach them to flame in appropriate areas, and later graduate to only flaming on your command. Charmeleon are easily irritable, when not well-trained. Given their flamethrower abilities and sharp claws, frustrated lashings-out are extremely dangerous. Contrapositively, when raised with firm discipline wielded by love, they make for excellent protectors. Most Charizard are more laid-back; so long as you do not appear to be a threat to them or their children, they will generally leave you alone. Generally, you have to try rather hard to make a Charizard see you as a serious threat, but be warned- they are much more paranoid about the welfare of their children. Never approach wild Charmander; the parent will probably interpret it as an attack. Should they approach you or your Pokémon, the parent will typically not intervene immediately; some play may be permitted, but avoid physical contact and potentially suspicious moves. Chars do not target humans for predation, but attacks have been known in lean times. An inherent danger to having any Char around is the open flame on the end of their tail. Poorly-trained Chars are a significant fire-hazard, and responsible for several dozen house fires in the Kanto region yearly. In most towns, you will be expected to keep fire extinguishers and blankets around should accidents occur. In the early stages at least is also recommended that you keep a Water Pokémon in your home to put out fires with minimum fuss. When raising a newly-hatched Charmander, ensure that it is kept in a completely fireproof pen- including the often-overlooked but vital floor material! At the same time, though, scatter various small, flammable objects inside the pen to enable the Charmander to quickly learn the igniting nature of its fire. When you have a full-grown Charizard you'll undoubtedly also have the temptation to fly on its back. The Charizard may even invite you to fly. Never fly on any Pokémon unless you have obtained the correct permits from your local region and have taught your Charizard the appropriate move. Not only is this dangerous for you, it may also be dangerous for your Charizard as he may not be physically mature enough to support your weight. Always ensure that you have the correct equipment for your Charizard, and that it fits both of you properly.
Courting and ChildrearingCharmander do not generally breed, as the stage naturally tends to evolve before becoming fertile. Still, Charmander have been known to exhibit "crushes", where a pair will spend a disproportionate time together; these have a mild correlation to their eventual mates. While Charmeleon are willing to cooperate during hunts, intimate relationships are rare- this stage is instinctively solitary. Individuals with more open natures may nonetheless form a breeding pair at this time; apart from their choice of residence being limited by their lesser rock-smashing abilities, childrearing behavior is essentially the same as in Charizard below. Male Charizard compete with each other to impress females; often through ritual tests of strength or finesse, but suitresses' tastes are often idiosyncratic. Once a female selects a suitor, their coupling tends to be stable from year to year; spurned suitors will move on to other prospects. When the gender ratio of a population is heavily skewed towards males, however, competition for mates can turn violent. A breeding pair of Charizard/Charmeleon will typically yield a single egg each year, barring multiples. The pair will pay attention to the region's Charmander population during incubation; as the sex of the hatched Charmander is determined by the incubation temperature, attempts will be made to even out any imbalances in the gender ratio of the previous year's generation. (Female determination is triggered by a relatively small temperature range; as such, most Trainer-incubated Charmander will be male.) Parents strive to keep their children Charmander under discrete supervision at all times, either by themselves or a trusted proxy. They push their children to hunt for themselves within months of hatching, but will share scraps from their kills. Children are not forced out of the den, but tend to naturally drift out on their own after evolution.
Social BehaviorThe Char line is quite social; while the population of a given region has no strict structure, neighboring families will almost always be on cooperative terms, and will assist each other in hunts, leaving behind one or two Charizard from the local group to watch their Charmander. The arrangement isn't limited to the species, either- in regions of Hoenn where they've been introduced, they have been known to incorporate the odd Salamence den into their neighborhood, and a couple dragon taming schools near the Indigo Plateau frequently find themselves deposited with a dozen Charmander to babysit for the day. Where disputes arise, Charizard often engage in ritual tests of strength rather than brawl it out- this is probably because direct combat between Charizard would decimate the species. It is still a bad idea for a human to test their temper, of course.