When is the best time to catch Pokemon in PokemonGo?

Like you all, I’ve been enjoying (or as my wife would say “obsessed with”) PokemonGo since its launch in July. So imagine my excitement when I came across PokemonGoRadar. They’re a company who have built a prediction algorithm for Pokemon spawns. They released this table of average spawn times for each of the 145 Pokemon that can currently be found in the wild. I thought I would scrape the data and see when the best time to catch Pokemon is!

Plotting the distribution of times weighted by the spawn rates, my first answer is that the best time to catch Pokemon is during the early hours of the morning.


I wasn’t necessarily expecting a perfect uniform distribution but I didn’t think it would be so skewed! When I dug deeper, I found that this is because of how annoyingly common Pidgeys and Rattatas are (as anyone who’s played the game would understand). They both have an average spawn time between 1am and 2am and a combined spawn rate of 3,000 / 10,000.

But I’m not interested in Pidgeys and Rattatas. I want the rare and more powerful Pokemon like Dragonite and Vaporeon. The real question I wanted to answer was “What is the best time to catch rare Pokemon?”

To answer this question, I first needed to define “rare”. Being a Pokemon expert, I can name all 151 by heart so could have come up with a list of the rare Pokemon. quite easily. However, the data scientist in me thought there must be a better way. My first choice (really because it sounded cool) was to define rare as Pokemon having a spawn rate of less than 100 per 10,000 (1%). To check if that was reasonable, I plotted the distribution of spawn rates:distribution

There are 119 Pokemon with a spawn rate less than 100 per 10,000, so I should probably change “rare” to “uncommon”.

Now here’s the plot showing the distribution of average spawn times just for the uncommon Pokemon.


The best time to catch uncommon Pokemon is still during the early hours of the morning.

So if you want to be the very best, like no one ever was – forget the late afternoon and early evenings, get out in the early mornings!

If this short piece has whetted your appetite for PokemonGo data science, check out this amazing article by Matthew Harris.

Note: This table is based on a predictive model, not on actual spawn rates. Secondly, the spawn times here are just averages, we don’t have the underlying distribution of spawn rates.

As usual, you can find the code here.



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