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Old October 24th, 2011 (11:52 AM).
Cutlerine Cutlerine is offline
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 21
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Aerial Pokémon

Flight has been one of mankind’s great obsessions for longer than anyone can remember, and those who possess the ability to tame and even ride the beasts of the sky have enjoyed a certain exalted status since time immemorial. The sight of a Staraptor overhead brings awe to the face (though this is swiftly replaced by terror); diving Fearow is possibly the most fearsome sight in Kanto – flying Pokémon are often amongst the great predators of the planet, and anyone would be desirous of having them under their control.

However, this is a guide aimed at the more inexperienced keeper, and so I, as ever, advise against aiming for the shock and awe factor. Buying a Skarmory is essentially assisted suicide.

What, then, can one keep if one isn’t a master? The answer is to start with Emolga; always start with Emolga when considering making a hobby or career out of aerial Pokémon. If you have a mind to ride your Pokémon, you should also begin by learning to ride a Doduo; more on this can be found in the next chapter. From Emolga, you will be well-placed to move on to a Pidgeotto or Swellow – and from there, if you really must, you could even make an attempt with the dreaded Golbat.

Many of these creatures are suited to falconry. Swellow is adept at catching other birds and fast-moving insects; Braviary is stronger, slower and tackles more powerful prey. Pokémon keeping has brought a new split in falconers’ circles: there are those who stick to traditional falconry, flying birds at small targets – and there are those who have embraced the potential of larger birds, and choose their prey accordingly. Sheep and cattle have proven popular, though it has to be said that wolves put up more of a fight.

Whether you are a sportsman or merely an aspiring pet owner, this chapter will tell you all you need to know. Flying Pokémon are difficult and often deadly to keep, but the rewards are tremendous, or at least a very sharp learning curve.

*

Chatot

Chatot (Agapomis magnificens) is, unusually for a Pokémon, in the same genus as a regular animal; so closely related to the Yellow-Collared Lovebird that it can interbreed with it, it is a mere stone's throw from being an ordinary bird. Consequently, its powers are somewhat weak, and it is therefore suitable for the first-time owner looking for a novelty pet.

The most striking thing about Chatot is, of course, their uncanny knack for mimicry. They outclass all other parrots by a long way in this regard; they speak as if they were an actual recording of the sound. It is often claimed that a Chatot's tongue is the same as a human's, which allows them to do this; however, as any biology student could tell you, this is patently nonsense. It is in fact the so-called sonic gland at the base of their skull that generates their voices.

Unlike most other bird-based Pokémon, Chatot doesn't require regular flight; they are fairly sedentary in the wild, luring insects near with their voices and supplementing this with nuts and berries. They are ideal for the lazy, but not for those with secrets that they don't want the Chatot overhearing and repeating; for this reason, I cannot recommend them for mob bosses, politicians or writers of Pokémon guide books.

Diet: Insects, nuts and berries, as mentioned above. Bird seed is good, but it must be accompanied by mealworms or some similar insect food.

Housing: They can be house-trained, but not easily; a perch a couple of metres above a tray for their droppings should suffice as a home. Once they have experienced central heating, they won't want to return outside; like mankind, they stay where they are most comfortable.

Size: Anywhere from one and a half to two feet long, depending on the breed.

Lifespan: Six or seven years. If forced to exercise, they may live longer – but like many humans, they would rather be lazy and short-lived than hard-working and long-lived.

Evolution:
Not applicable.

Breeding: No easy matter; Chatot, partly because they are lazy and partly because they are somewhat coy, don't often display much interest in their own kind. There is some evidence to suggest that music plays a part: try various tracks and see what arouses them.

Acquisition: As popular pets, Dorian's always carries a large selection, and they are available from chain stores worldwide – but the best are to be found in Sinnoh.

*

Pidgeotto

A rare carnivorous pigeon species, Pidgeotto (Deinopteryga campbell) was the first Pokémon to be investigated by falconry circles, and today it is still the most popular. Fast, intelligent and fiercely loyal, it outclasses most regular birds and half of the other bird Pokémon. In the wild, they can spot a Caterpie in long grass at a distance of two kilometres; in a more domestic setting, this function is useful for spotting approaching Jehovah's witnesses, door-to-door salesmen, or vengeful ex-wives.

It must be noted that Pidgeotto will accept only one person as their master, and will refuse to obey unless they fly from their wrist and can see their face. Since they often reach weights of six kilograms (Professor Oak claims they weigh thirty, but self-evidently he does not know that this would render them physically incapable of flight), this can be something of an issue; I have often seen falconers with their right arms massively overdeveloped in comparison with the left, from repeatedly taking the weight of the Pidgeotto.

They are especially adept at catching the insect-based Pokémon, something that regular raptors find difficult; in the wild, these are their main source of sustenance. In fact, Pidgeotto territories often overlap with those of hawks, where one hunts the Caterpie and Weedle and the other hunts the mice and voles. This usually ends badly, for Pidgeotto are prone to jealousy, and if the other bird appears to be doing better for itself than the Pidgeotto is, then it will chase them down and claw them to death.

Herein we find Pidgeotto's main method of attack: its talons. These are more developed than in any other bird of prey except Pidgeot, being almost as dexterous and powerful as the simian hand. Unlike most other raptors, it doesn't kill with the strike from its swoop or with later attacks once it has carried the prey away; it glides down gently and silently, and crushes the life from its prey with one squeeze of its talons. For this reason, their larger brethren, Pidgeot, are often put to use by assassins, for clinical trials have proven them to be at least as effective as snipers.

Pidgeotto have a fiercely territorial streak, and it can be hard to convince them that they are in your territory and not the other way around; if they do believe you to be an intruder, they will attempt to break your skull with their talons. They won't succeed, but you will be left with fractures, possible burst eyeballs and a bird that will never respect you for as long as it lives. The best way to train them, I have found, is to train something else simultaneously; as I said before, they are prone to jealousy, and they will vie for your attention and respect to the best of their abilities.

Diet: Insectivorous, but only the large, Pokémon insects; Caterpie and Weedle are both good, though expensive. It is possible to get them to eat white mice and rabbits, but this must be supplemented by special vitamin tablets, or they will fall victim to Pokémon scabies.

Housing: Pidgeotto will not come indoors, but will choose the highest tree in the area to nest in and never leave it; make sure it is one near your place of residence. With their intelligence, it is easy to teach them to approach at a whistle or snap of the fingers. It is wise to put a lightning rod on their tree, for otherwise they are prone to being fried during storms.

Size: Three and a half feet long, around the same size as a large golden eagle; interestingly, golden eagles have created a Pidgeotto-free zone in the north of Britain, indicating that they have some way of killing what ought to be a more powerful creature. Further research is necessary; I plan to bring my children this summer, and make a family holiday of it.

Lifespan:
Thirty to thirty-five years, though the North American subspecies regularly produces specimens that reach sixty.

Evolution: Pidgey are incapable of hunting anything larger or more vicious than a mouse, and so are not suitable for falconry; Pidgeot are far too capable when it comes to hunting, and regularly prey on humans, wolves and lions. My theory is that they deliberately choose dangerous prey to make themselves seem tougher – though the fact that they very often succeed in their hunts indicates that this toughness is actually real. I cannot recommend them for the entry-level falconer; they are to Pidgeotto as polar bears are to pandas.

Breeding: The males with the biggest, most colourful crests get the females; pairs form naturally in the autumn, and the males follow the females throughout the winter to make sure that they do not find another mate. In the spring, between six and eight large eggs are laid, of which on average three will survive; the young are cared for by both parents.

Acquisition:
Breeders worldwide carry all the different variants. Studies indicate that the species originates from Kanto, but those to be found there are actually the smallest and weakest of the types, and are, for no adequately explained reason, more prone to neuroses.

*

Tropius

It is rare that I recommend anything larger than a person as a household pet, and I do not do so here: Tropius (Musasaurus foliopterys) is, while reportedly a popular home pet in New Zealand, more suited for those in possession of a small forest. The only reason I include them in this chapter at all is that they are very useful both as a more placid example of the larger, stronger Pokémon and as a source of income.

Taking money, as always, first, we find that Tropius are perfect for reclaiming scrubland and forest. Their large size and habit of moving in herds means that they often trample smaller weeds out of existence, and larger shrubs and trees constitute their diet – and these they strip completely of leaves and bark, leaving them dead. A herd of Tropius turned loose in a field turned wild will leave it tamed again within a month, and for almost no cost. Renting your Tropius out is a profitable exercise, or at least it is until they get spooked by something and stampede.

This is something that cannot be glossed over. Tropius are colossal, dim-witted and capable of moving extremely fast when necessary: in short, they are spectacularly well-suited to stampeding. They come from a simpler world, a world where the best response to anything startling is to run or fly as fast as possible in one direction; unfortunately for them and for you the owner, this response is singularly inapplicable in the modern world. Since they are often rented out to farmers or owners of stately homes, they frequently run into the countryside and do no damage – but if even a small group of panicked Tropius reach civilisation, the cost of repairs will not come cheaply. In order to minimise the frequency of your payouts, I suggest you keep either a tranquilliser rifle or a Glaceon on hand to stop them in their tracks when they flee. The tranquilliser rifle requires an annoying licence, but the Glaceon usually leaves them dead; both methods have their disadvantages.

The other thing about Tropius is, of course, that they produce bananas naturally under their chin. It is, in fact, unclear whether they are actually a dinosaur; some now believe that they are actually a gigantic, ambulatory herb.

Other than this, Tropius are good preparation for greater things. If one wants to keep Togekiss, Bastiodon, Venusaur, Torterra or any of the other large, more cantankerous herbivores, one should start with Tropius: it has all the bulk and comparatively few of the vices. I used to keep a herd, but once I branched into Camerupt breeding, I ended up feeding them all to the latter; it turns out that they make splendid kindling. Ah, for the days before welfare groups!

Diet: As explained above, they eat leaves and bark; left outside, they will feed themselves well enough. Curiously, heather seems to be toxic to them, so one might want to consider this beforehand.

Housing: They come from Hoenn, so they will need a heated stable in winter and at night; they are used to tropical temperatures. Throughout the day, they will be fine outside and eating, unless the temperature is below fifteen degrees.

Size: Up to thirty feet long – as long as the Loch Ness Monster, or at least as long as the stuffed one in my lounge.

Lifespan: Up to eighty years, though there is evidence to suggest that intensive periods of flight can cause fatal early heart attacks.

Evolution: Not applicable.

Breeding: In autumn, the males joust for females with their necks, which are their primary offensive weapons; unfortunately, evolution has, for some reason, deprived them of their once-long tails, which means they often overbalance and fall over, from which position they struggle to get up. For this reason, the contest for a mate takes an unreasonably long time; if you are serious about breeding them, bring a good book.

Acquisition: Unfortunately, they are rather rare in the wild and few bother to breed them in captivity; consequently, they are always in rather short supply. Those with contacts in Team Aqua or Magma will be able to get hold of them more easily.

*

Braviary

A step up from a Swellow or Pidgeotto, Braviary (Gigaquila americana) is for the more serious falconer. With it, the prey is no longer Bidoof or Caterpie; this is a bird whose prey in the wild includes Stoutland, Bouffalant and humans, and consequently you fly them at Bibarel, Sawsbuck or hippos.

At nearly five feet from claws to beak, Braviary is not the sort of raptor one carries on the wrist. They kill less through the sharpness of their talons than their sheer weight; when ten kilograms of angry eagle falls out of the sky onto something's head, it does not usually survive for long. Most have them perch on posts nearby, but I recommend starting the flight from a clifftop; Braviary, with their immense weight and shallow wings, are not strong fliers, and find it hard to get aloft. Once in the air, they're quite reluctant to come down; it takes years of training for them to dive at prey that they don't think they need. The best way to train them is to abuse their immense pride; I suggest getting someone to hurl abuse at them from the sidelines until the Braviary decides to move. Once it is in what is known in the trade as the 'death dive', the abuser must move swiftly, and place whatever the desired target animal is in the spot where they were standing. Repeating this about seventy times usually results in the Braviary connecting the prey animal with the abuse, and attempting to kill them on sight. Use this knowledge wisely; in discovering it, I went through eighteen cousins before finally finding one fast enough to dodge in time.

It goes without saying that Braviary is not for the beginner. It is advisable for prospective keepers to not only have experience of regular falconry – with a hawk or with a Pokémon – but to be well-versed in the art of dealing with lions, in whose aggressive nature Braviary share. Alternatively, one could wear plate armour, but this will damage the Pokémon's toes when it attacks you (shiny things irritate them), and you will also lose any respect you might have garnered amongst the falconry community.

Diet: Wholly and enthusiastically carnivorous. Braviary requires its body weight in food each day, and will not hesitate to make up any shortfall out of your torso.

Housing: Difficult. Braviary can be coaxed into aviaries, but there is no real point; nothing dares attack them in the wild, and they can be left alone to sleep outdoors. The real difficulty is in calling them back again: they like to think that they answer to no man, and so you will often have to go and rouse them from their nests yourself when they do not heed your call.

Size: The biggest ever is estimated at around six foot six in total length, making it probably the largest raptor since the last Magnificent Argentine Bird died. No precise measurements have been taken, since no one really wants to risk life and limb to take them. More normally, though, Braviary are just over five feet long, counting the tail.

Lifespan: The Unovan subspecies is marginally more longer-lived; either way, they live for around twenty years in the wild and up to thirty-five in captivity.

Evolution:
Their young, Rufflet, are fast movers and take a long time to mature; they might have some potential as mousers, but nothing else. Braviary is where the real sport is at.

Breeding: Braviary are one of those species entirely composed of males, and so it is not known precisely how they reproduce. Some zoologists are mounting expeditions to the mountains to find out, but after six months none have returned.

Acquisition: Few breed them, but Dorian's usually have a few of the Unovan ones; the really big ones, though are to be found in their native America, and also in parts of Canada – the Denver-based Poké Store has a good reputation.
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