Cute as a button, the most famous turtle Pokémon is one of the original starters in the very first Pokémon games (alongside Charmander and Bulbasaur), and a regularly recurring character for much of the early seasons of the Pokémon cartoon series. It’s hard to deny Squirtle’s adorable charm, nor its abilities as a solid fighter, as an appearance as a playable character in Super Smash Bros Brawl has indicated.
But how much do Pokémon fans really know about Squirtle? There are lots of hidden facts and pieces of obscure trivia which even the most dedicated Pokéfan might not know. Here are sixteen interesting and obscure facts about Squirtle, the original water Pokémon!
16. Squirtles Are the Most Common Starter for Main Characters in the Anime
When Pokémon fans think of Squirtle in the cartoon series that’s based upon the video games, they’ll probably first think of Ash’s Squirtle, the former leader of the Squirtle Squad who cleans up his act in order to join everyone’s favorite trainer on his quest to become a Pokémon master.
That’s not the only Squirtle to appear in the show, though: in fact, Squirtles have been trained by more main characters in the cartoon than any other starting Pokémon. May, the female trainer who replaces Misty as Ash’s companion in the show at the start of the Advance Generations series, finds a baby squirtle and raises it as one of her Pokémon after it bonds with her. Similarly, it’s revealed that Ash’s longterm rival originally chose Squirtle as his starting Pokémon in the first episode, and in the most recent series of the show, the recurring character Tierno trains a Squirtle as well.
15. Squirtle Was Ash’s First Choice
It’s difficult to imagine the Pokémon cartoon series with anyone other than Pikachu accompanying Ash on his adventures. In reality, though, Pikachu is hardly Ash’s first choice within the anime – he’s given the electric mouse Pokémon after managing to accidentally break his alarm clock and sleep through the ceremony that allows him to choose his own companion.
In the first episode of the show, Ash struggles with the choice of which Pokémon to choose from Professor Oak as he begins his Pokémon journey. After a lot of self-reflection and a night of exciting Pokémon dreams that lead to his throwing his Pokeball-shaped clock against a wall, Ash arrives at Professor Oak’s laboratory to choose Squirtle – only to discover that the water starter and the other two have all been chosen by other trainers, leaving only Pikachu.
14. Squirtle Is the Most Effective Starter Against Gym Leaders
The decision of which Pokémon to choose at the start of Pokémon Red and Blue is a difficult one, and often says a lot about the player and the kind of battle strategy they prefer. Bulbasaur has an advantage against a lot of the early gym battles, while Charmander takes longer to come into its own, but is more useful later on.
Comparing the types of Pokémon that the trainer faces in all of the gyms within the game, though, Squirtle has a clear advantage. Squirtle’s water type moves are super effective against 42 gym Pokémon, while Bulbasaur has the upper hand in 36 fights, and Charmander is only effective in 15 battles. When it comes to defense, Squirtle wins again, having a disadvantage to only 24 Pokémon belonging to gym leaders and the Elite Four, whereas Charmander is weak against 38 rival Pokémon, and Bulbasaur is at a disadvantage in 41 battles.
While there’s more to what makes a good Pokémon that just a type matchup, Squirtle’s all-around even defense and attack type benefits mean that it is generally the preferred choice of speedrunners, who look to get through the entire game with just a few key Pokémon.
13. Squirtles Are Named After Money in Japanese
While the English name for Squirtle is a portmanteau of squirt and turtle, highlighting its aquatic nature and water powers, the Japanese name for the Pokémon is very different, and has a cultural significance which isn’t present in its English translation.
The Japanese name for Squirtle is ‘Zenigame’ (ゼニガメ or 銭亀) – ‘zeni’ means money, and ‘game’ means turtle. The significance behind this name is that small pond turtle shells in Japan are believed to look like little coins. Thus Squirtle’s Japanese name reflects the fact that, as a turtle, its shell could be mistaken for money.
Squirtle’s name is different in many other languages – in French, the name ‘Carapuce’, comes from the word ‘carapace’, meaning shell, and ‘puce’, which is often used for small, cute things. In Korean, Squirtle’s name, ‘Kkobugi’ (‘꼬부기’), is a portmanteau of the words for child and turtle.
12. Ash’s Squirtle Never Even Thinks About Evolving
Ash Ketchum’s original team of Pokémon all grow in different ways as the show progresses, Many go on to evolve (such as Butterfree, Pidgeot, and Charizard), while others make a definitive stance against evolving, not wanting to change themselves at a fundamental level – this is the case with Pikachu, who ultimately refuses an evolutionary thunder stone on several occasions, and Bulbasaur, who decides against evolving when taking part in an evolutionary festival for its species.
Of all of Ash’s original team, though, Squirtle is the only Pokémon which at no point shows any inclination to evolve. Squirtle remains in its original form throughout the show, and ultimately returns to its former friends, the Squirtle Squad, who in its absence have become a champion team of firefighters. As Squirtle has only made very brief appearances in the show since, it’s unlikely that the character will ever be revisited long enough for Squirtle to be given the chance to evolve.
11. Squirtle Can Drown in Super Smash Bros Brawl
For the third Super Smash Bros game, three new playable characters were introduced as a single combatant: by choosing to play as the Pokémon Trainer, players can switch between Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard at will. Each have distinct advantages and disadvantages, meaning that it’s not always easy to know when to play as the relatively speedy Squirtle, or as a larger Pokémon.
Considering that Squirtle is a water-type Pokémon which uses a selection of water-based attacks on its opponents, it would make sense that this character would be the perfect choice for players battling in a level that features a body of water. Surprisingly, though, Squirtle is actually capable of drowning in deep water within the game – an act which doesn’t match with its appearance in any other video game.
10. The Squirtle Squad Have Appeared in Games Twice
On many occasions, the Pokémon anime expands and develops the Pokémon mythos further through the introduction of various characters and pieces of interesting lore for the series. While these often form the backbone of concepts within the cartoon, they’re not normally picked up on by the video game series at large, although there are exceptions.
The Squirtle Squad, for example, have become such an iconic symbol within Pokémon fandom, that they’ve been referenced multiple times in the video game series. In the game Pokémon Channel, a member of the Squirtle Squad hosts the game’s Shop ‘N Squirtle channel, and also appears in an episode of the anime which is exclusive to the game. What’s more, in Pokémon Yellow, when the player first receives Squirtle from Officer Jenny, a reference is made to the Pokémon in question causing mischief with a gang of other Squirtles.
There are also references to the Squirtle Squad in a variety of fan games. In the fan mod for Super Smash Bros Brawl, entitled Project M, Squirtle can appear wearing a pair of sunglasses which match its Squirtle Squad appearance.
9. Squirtle Keeps Changing Color
Over the course of the history of Pokémon, various characters within the series have undergone alterations to their appearance where necessary – many models have become streamlined or otherwise changed in order to create more uniform designs across all media.
One such Pokémon to go through these changes is Squirtle – while for the most part Squirtle’s actual shape and design have remained the same, the Pokémon has seen a wide variety of different color palettes used for its official coloring.
Originally, in the early days of the franchise, Squirtle appeared as a light blue color. For the game’s sequels, Pokémon Gold and Silver, though, Squirtle was changed to a far darker shade of blue – this was likely a response to the limited color palette available on the Gameboy Color. Once more colors were made available with the Gameboy Advance, Squirtle changed again, this time to a teal color. In various different games Squirtle continues to vary in shade depending on the art style in question, far more so than any other Pokémon.
8. Squirtle Is Actually a Slow Runner in Super Smash Bros
For all that Squirtle is built up as the fastest of the Pokémon Trainer’s three Pokémon in Super Smash Bros Brawl, it’s not necessarily faster in all situations. Those games who carefully study the performance of various characters within Smash Bros games have noted that Squirtle actually has a slower running speed than Ivysaur and Charizard, both of whom are able to clear more space at a faster pace.
This isn’t to say that Squirtle isn’t faster in other aspects – the framerate for its attacks means that it will often get punches and kicks done quicker and other combatants, helping it to move around a lot faster than other whiles attacking, and managing to get more attacks done in a shorter amount of time.
What’s interesting is that, when carrying a large, heavy object within the game, Squirtle actually moves faster than Ivysaur or Charizard lifting the same object – so while Squirtle is slower on open stretches, it’s quicker when performing a feat of strength or when using an attack.
7. Squirtle’s Shell Might Be a Reference to Super Mario Bros
It’s well documented that Nintendo loves its turtles. The koopa troopers, one of the primary enemies in the Mario Bros franchise, have occurred in multiple different games stretching back to even before the release of Super Mario Bros for the NES. What’s more, Bowser is based around a turtle with a similar shell to the koopa troopers, and Yoshi was originally designed as a turtle, having a small shell-like hump on its back.
Squirtle’s design draws plenty of inspiration from the koopas of the Super Mario Bros franchise, in particular with the character’s alternate color palette. Within the game, there’s an exceptionally small (one in 8192) chance that a Pokémon will be shiny, as indicated by a twinkling lights and a different color scheme to most of its species. While most Squirtles have a red shell on their backs, shiny Squirtles have a green shell – this is believed by some to be a reference to Super Mario Bros, as the two primary types of koopa troopers that appear in the game have either red or green shells.
On the other hand, this could be a massive coincidence – but considering Nintendo’s control of its branding, it’s unlikely that the similarities went unnoticed when the shiny version of Squirtle was being designed.
6. Squirtle is the Only Member of Ash’s Team not to Return for the Best Wishes Series
Poor old Squirtle. Having said goodbye to Ash to rejoin its friends in the Squirtle Squad, the tiny turtle Pokémon hasn’t been given very many opportunities to return to the cartoon series since. While Pokémon like Bulbasaur and Charizard, as well as plenty of later Pokémon, make semi-regular appearances whenever the plot demands it, Squirtle is one of the unlucky few that is very rarely is ever mentioned in the series.
The last canonical time that Squirtle has been seen in the anime is an episode of the Kanto Battle Frontier series of the show, in which it returns briefly to help Ash with a difficult battle. In the subsequent Best Wishes series, which is based on the Pokémon Black and White games, all of Ash’s original team returned to help him at various times except Squirtle, who was instead briefly seen in a flashback.
5. Mega Blastoise Is the Most Powerful Non-Legendary Water Pokémon
With Pokémon X and Y, gamers were introduced to a new mechanic that sees key popular Pokémon mega evolve into even more powerful forms of their most adult evolution. Mega Blastoise, Squirtle’s final evolution, is a particularly strong Pokémon to use in battle, with a special attack stat that is almost unbeatable among water type Pokémon.
This isn’t to say that Mega Blastoise is the most powerful of all – several legendary water type Pokémon, such as Kyogre, have higher special attack stats. What’s more, depending on the strategy the player is utilizing, it might not be necessary to take advantage of special moves at all: many Pokémon are better off using their attack stat to punch, kick, and bite opponents.
4. Squirtle’s Evolution is the Least Used Starting Pokémon in Competitive Battles
Pokémon battling is an insanely complex and nuanced e-sport, and for every theory that crops up around a certain Pokémon there are a dozen that contradict it. For this reason, even though Squirtle’s family has the best type advantages against the gym leaders in the first Pokémon game and has an incredibly high special attack stat when it evolves into Mega Blastoise, its family tree are sorely unrepresented in competitive battles.
Speedrunners and competitive battlers look for different things in their Pokémon. In spite of Mega Blastoise’s high special attack, it’s relatively rare to see the Pokémon in online competitive battles, often because its moveset and special hidden abilities don’t provide the same advantages that other Pokémon offer. Most notably, Blastoise can’t take advantage of weather effects – both Venusaur and Charizard gain stat boosts in sunlight, making them far more useful in battles against other trainers who treat Pokémon as an enormous, incredibly complicated game of chess.
3. Squirtle’s Trophy in Super Smash Bros Has Been Edited for Cultural Differences
The current generation of Super Smash Bros games for the 3DS and Wii U consoles both feature an in-game trophy that can be collected which features Squirtle’s cute face. The text on this trophy explains a little about the character – but does so using different slang in two different English-speaking regions.
In the US versions of the Super Smash Bros game, the trophy describes Squirtle as being ‘so gosh-darn adorable’. This, however, isn’t a common phrase in many parts of the English speaking world, and as such, in the PAL version of the game (which is played in the UK and Australia), the text instead reads that Squirtle is ‘so flipping adorable’.
This small change may not seem like much, but Nintendo’s decision to provide a different regionalization for two different dialects of English has been essential in the past – Mario Party 8 had to be recalled in the UK because at one point in the game uses the word ‘spastic’, a harmless term in America which is considered profoundly offensive in Britain.
2. Female Squirtles Are Incredibly Rare
Each Pokémon within the video game comes with a different ratio of male to females within its species. Some Pokémon, such as Taurus, are all male, while others, such as Magnemite, have no gender at all.
The Squirtle family of Pokémon is interesting because the gender balance of its population is incredibly askew. There is a ratio of seven male Squirtles to every one female of the species, meaning that only one in eight Squirtles within the games is female.
This has implications for breeding – Pokémon games after the first generation have a strong emphasis on convincing Pokémon to mate to produce offspring with certain advantages including higher stats and key moves that can only be learned from a Pokémon’s parents. With so few female Squirtles, it’s more difficult to breed the perfect Squirtle for competitive battling, taking advantage not only of its special moves but also its hidden ability which can only be inherited from its mother.
1. Squirtles are Born with Soft Shells
As with many Pokémon, Squirtles are inspired by real-world creatures, and as such, elements of their behavior, habitat, and etymology are borrowed from their non-fictional counterparts.
According to many of the Pokedex entries for Squirtles across several of the games, the tiny turtle Pokémon are born with soft shells that harden soon after birth. This draws inspiration from several species of turtles in the real world, such as the aptly named soft shell turtle, and some forms of sea turtles. As a rule, river turtles typically have harder shells at their time of birth, but this isn’t always the case – either way, though, it seems that Squirtle might be a saltwater rather than a freshwater Pokémon if its soft shell is any indication of its origin.
According to Pokémon lore, all Pokémon initially hatch from eggs (even decidedly mammalian Pokémon such as Miltank). In Squirtle’s case, hatching from eggs makes perfect sense according to the creatures that the Pokémon is based on – of all the starter Pokémon, Squirtle most closely resembles its source material, as it lacks a plant bulb on its back or a flame on its tail, although this is made up for as it evolves and gains enormous water cannons which aren’t typically seen on real world turtles of any size.
I Choose You!
In the twenty years since the first Pokémon games were released, fans across the world have enjoyed the gosh-darn, flipping adorable Squirtle.
Whether Squirtle is light blue or teal and whether it’s being used for speedruns or ignored in the anime and in competitive battles, the Pokémon remains one of the most iconic creatures in the entire Pokémon franchise.
Are you a fan of Squirtle? What facts do you know about the tiny turtle that aren’t on this list? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!