Jigglypuff and Wigglytuff may not seem related to Drifloon, but both of them are classified by the pokedex as the “Balloon Pokemon”. The furry pink singers from generation 1 may not be literal balloons, but that doesn’t make them any less incredible. Wigglytuff can inflate itself to incredible volumes:
There’s a lot of advantage to be had in being able to inflate like this. Looking bigger, badder, and more intimidating is a great way to fend off predators. There’s actually a ton of animals that do this in our world, one of the most easily recognizable being a puffer fish:
To inflate, a pufferfish unhinges its jaw and sucks in insane amounts of water: around 35 gulps of water in 14 seconds. It’s stretchy stomach and lack of a rib cage let it expand to over 3 times its own size, upon which it closes off it’s esophagus to stopper it all inside its stomach. It’s water, and not air that allows a pufferfish to inflate, but other animals can use air just as easily!
Puff adders are snakes that puff up to appear bigger to scare off predators. Sort of like puffer fish, these snakes will take in massive amounts of air to puff up and look bigger than they actually are.
Birds are another great example of this. Birds have a really interesting respiratory system that’s not quite like ours. We talked a lot about their vocal system when we covered Chatot, but birds also have multiple organs called air sacs which do all of the “pumping” in their breathing, so all that their lungs have to do is absorb the oxygen. Humans have our muscle called the diaphragm which allows us to expand and shrink our lungs, but birds instead use their air sacs! Most birds have 9 air sacs in their bodies, but some have as few as 7 or as many as 12. In any case, these air sacs are exactly as simple as they sound. They expand and fill with air, which not only helps with breathing but allows many birds to puff up and appear larger! The majestic Frigatebird is an extreme example of this ability, inflating its chest like a balloon:
But Wigglytuff is a mammal, right? No problem. Many chimpanzees and other primates have inflatable throat sacks a lot like a bird’s, used for mating displays and so on. Or a Walrus, who uses its air sacks as buoys. A walrus will inflate its throat sacs to help it stay afloat above water!
Interestingly enough, most of these creatures’ inflation mechanisms serve another purpose: they are great for producing all kinds of noises. Walruses use theirs to make ringing sounds that attract mates, howler monkeys use the extra space to amplify their screeches, puff adders make loud sudden noises in addition to their increase in size to scare off predators, and a bird’s complicated respiratory system is half of the reason they can makes all of the cool sounds that they do. If there’s anything more important about the Jigglypuff line than their inflation, it has to be their song. This is why their balloon-ability makes total sense from a biological standpoint; the wigglytuff family obviously has a very important, precise vocal and respiratory system. Wigglytuff’s air sacks not only allow them to inflate like balloons, but it gives them control over the volume, pitch, and overall versatility of their voices.