Greetings TAY. I’ve been researching a topic ever since this morning when I saw the above image in a maintaku comment section (the article about this abomination). I initially thought it was a little tame compared to the horror Gita Jackson subjected us all to, but it got me thinking: do pokémon lactate?
Having since searched around on the internet, I can’t offer any definitive answer, but what I’ve learned has led to three theories that could make sense of all of the various factors at play here. So first I’ll lay out all the info, and then I’ll propose my theories on poké-lactation.
A Bit About Lactation
Now this isn’t an academic paper, so forgive me for citing Wikipedia and not treating the question with all the rigor it might deserve, but I read the whole article, and here are the relevant points for my research:
-Lactation is a mechanism of secreting nutrients (milk) from mammary glands in order to feed children (primarily).
-Post-pregnancy female members of all mammal species can lactate.
-Some non-mammals can lactate.
-Some males can lactate.
-All monotremes (egg laying animals) that lactate do so through milk vents, rather than nipples.
Pokémon are (Probably) Monotremes
Now as I’m sure most of you know, pokémon are born from eggs, which has it’s own set of implications:
-Pokémon are usually born full grown but unevolved. Two Pikachus for instance will birth Pichu eggs.
-Pokémon can breed with some other pokémon but not every other pokémon. They are divided into egg groups, which are sets of pokémon who can compatibly breed with eachother.
-Many pokémon are in multiple egg groups. This means that egg groups aren’t isolated from each other, and you can chain together pokemon breeding partners, so a baby pokémon might have grandparents on either side that couldn’t compatibly breed with one another.
Take a gander at the cow based pokémon above. Behold Miltank, a pokémon that suggests lactation in its very name. But it goes deeper than name or appearance:
-Bulbapedia describes Miltank as having four teats.
-Miltank’s description in Silver, Soul Silver, and X mentions an increase in milk quality if Miltank is around babies.
-Until gen IV, Miltank was the only pokémon able to perform the move Milk Drink. Skidoo and Gogoat then became able to perform this move.
-Humans are repeatedly mentioned and seen drinking Miltank milk, and it can be made into yogurt.
Certain Pokémon Raise Their Young
Now for lactation to make any sense, we need to establish that there are certain pokémon who raise their young. Many are visibly independent from hatching, but we see plenty of examples of pokémon raising each other: it’s part of Kangaskhan’s core design, and poor little Cubone’s dead mother accounts for their appearance as well.
...All of this leads me to each of the following theories. I think all three are plausible, so I’ll present them in order of least to most likely:
The Coincidence Theory
While there are a couple times that we see regular animals in the pokémon anime, pokémon themselves seem to replace the animal world in that universe. Therefore it’s ridiculous to compare the biological facts of our reality with a set of fictional creatures that don’t fit neatly into any one of our kingdoms: there are plant based pokémon, not to mention garbage and ice cream based pokémon, so it’s silly to make any assumption towards the lactation of pokémon.
How is Miltank explained then? Simple. Humans named the move, Milk Drink because it reminded them of human lactation. Humans, much like they drank milk as infants, drank the product of Milk Drink, and decided to name it after a human biological process (remember no animals, so only humans lactate on this theory). But apart from appearing similar, there is no greater relationship between Milk Drink and lactation, and no reason to believe that pokémon lactate.
On the surface this theory seems likely, but it also leaves a lot of things out: why have humans evolved to be able to digest Milk Drink, considering that it presumably doesn’t contain lactose? Why does Milk Drink get more nutritious when Miltank is around newborns? And why is Miltank the one to be named after the move, when it can be performed by both Skidoo and Gogoat?
The Lactation-able Theory
This theory works it out by saying that all pokémon are theoretically able to lactate, but many pokémon don’t produce because they don’t need to. Lactation generally occurs on the basis of a hormonal change in order to raise children, and while some pokémon are born fully able to fend for themselves, some pokémon aren’t and thus pokémon have, in general, evolved the equipment necessary to lactate, which is hormonally activated when it’s called upon.
This theory is held together by the assumption that Pokemon are all of one species—which in turn explains how egg groups can make sense. Different pokémon are different breeds of one species, all of which could potentially lactate, but most of the time they aren’t under the hormonal conditions to do so. Much like human males have nipples and mammary glands they rarely use, Pikachus have milk vents (remember, monotremes) that they have no reason to use, because Pichu’s are fine on their own, but Kangaskhan’s produce milk for their young when they need to. But this only makes any sense if a Snorlax who mothers a Kangaskhan can also lactate, because the baby Kangaskhan needs milk to survive, so it only works if pokemon are one species.
Now what about Milk Drink? Simply put, Miltank is a breed of pokémon that developed a move out of being able to lactate. Just like clawed pokémon can learn moves specific to that biological features, Miltank needed to lactate a lot for their breed’s young and they came up with a move out of it.
Now with all of that laid out there are still problems that can’t be easily explained. Different pokemon breeds are officially referred to as species. Pokémon should be monotremes and lack nipples as they lay eggs, but Miltank has clearly visible teats. While the anime and descriptions of pokemon suggest that some need to be raised by parent pokemon, the in-game mechanics of breeding seem to contradict that. Legendaries can’t breed. None of this is to mention the absurdity inherent in thinking that a fucking ice cream cone could lactate if it needed to. This leads me to what is probably the most likely (though admittedly least fun possibility):
I’ve Thought About This More Than Anyone Responsible for Pokemon