Catching a Ditto in Pokémon Go always happens at the most inopportune times. Sometimes you can catch three in a day, and then, when it comes time to catch one for a research mission, those pink gelatinous blobs of DNA copying goo are nowhere to be found.
What’s so special about a Ditto? Well, you need one if you’re going to complete the Special Research Quest ‘A Mythical Discovery’ which is how you can get yourself your very own Mew. If you’re thinking you’re sitting pretty because you’ve already caught one, you’re in for a shock. Any previously caught Dittos in your roster won’t count towards the Mew quest until you actually get to step 5 of it, which explicitly asks you to catch a Ditto; only catching one when you have the task to do so will result in it counting towards the quest.
The biggest problem with catching Ditto is that, unlike other Pokémon games where Ditto is found in its base form, Ditto in Pokémon Go takes on the form of another Pokémon. In fact, transformed Dittos look exactly like their target - a Ditto’d Zubat looks just like a regular Zubat, which means you won’t be able to identify them on the map screen at all. To make things even more frustrating, you won’t find out if the Pokémon you’re catching is a Ditto until you’ve caught one as a special screen will play informing you that you got a Ditto instead.
While there is no easy way to get one other than by playing and hoping, we can help reduce the amount of time you spend looking for a Ditto. Just be aware that there is no surefire and quick way to do this, but following the steps below can help you immeasurably.
Here are three tips you can use to help you catch a Ditto without wasting any time.
Tip #1: These are the Ditto disguise Pokémon
The only method you can use to catch a Ditto is to go after the Pokémon Ditto copies. Remember that these Pokémon won’t look any different on your map, so you’ll just have to catch every one you see until you get your Ditto.
Note: This list of Pokémon which can be Dittos changes all the time – it used to include Paras in February, but this is no longer the case as of March 2021, but other than Paras everything has remained the same.
Here’s a complete list of the Ditto disguise Pokémon for March 2021:
How do you know one of these Pokémon is a Ditto? After you catch one, instead of saying “Catch” the word “Oh?” will pop up above the Pokémon's head, and Ditto will reveal itself. This won’t happen until after the Pokémon is caught, however, so make sure you actually catch the Pokémon and don’t give up early.
If you think that a little Hoothoot is taking a long time to capture and, for example, keeps breaking out of the Pokéball, chances are that this will be a Ditto as they are much more stubborn to catch. At least, this was the case for us when we caught a Ditto disguised as a Hoppip last month.
Catching a Ditto will take a great deal of time and patience because there’s no surefire way to tell which one is a Ditto, so be prepared for a long slog. However, there is a good strategy you can use here to help make the task go a bit quicker, which brings us to our next tip...
Tip #2: Use Lures and Incense to get Ditto
If you need a Ditto right this second and you can’t find any of the above Pokémon floating around your area, you can always visit a Poké Stop nearby and drop a Lure or Incense to try and get one to show up. Using one of these items will allow you to bring any of the specific Pokémon you’re looking for right to you, but because of the rarity of these items you might not want to use them all in one sitting.
If you are going to use lures and incense, we would recommend doing so only for a bit and using up one of your Lucky Eggs to increase the amount of Pokémon nearby and the amount of XP you get per catch – it’s a great way to power level. With that in mind, however, sometimes there are special events in Pokémon Go which will increase Incense time from 60 minutes to three hours, so you could be much more efficient if you wait until an event is happening.
Tip #3: The ‘Nearby Pokémon’ tracker is your best friend
On the map screen, you’ll have an option in the bottom right which will show you the silhouette of Pokémon appearing nearby.
If you’re out of Incense and Lures, you can use this to track them down yourselves, just be aware that the silhouette won’t show a Ditto. Tapping on one of the silhouettes will plot a course on your map taking you straight to the tracked Pokémon, which you can then try to catch and hope for the best.
Tip #3: Ask your friends / local Discord group where they caught a Ditto
Okay, so this requires a bit more coordination, but if you have friends or are part of a community that plays Pokémon Go, you can ask them where they recently caught a Ditto.
Like all the rest of the Pokémon in the game, a Ditto spawn is the same for everyone. Which means that if your friend just caught a Ditto two blocks over that was hiding as a Bidoof, you can go catch the same Bidoof and it will also be a Ditto. Joining an active Discord server, which can be found by simply Google searching, will help you find a Ditto in no time, so long as you’re relatively nearby to the members of the community. Using the same principle above, most Discord chats are dedicated to Ditto locations, so it’s definitely worth joining one if you can.
If that’s not your bag then your only option is to go it alone and set off on a noble Ditto-catching quest. Just remember, the key to catching a Ditto is patience. Ultimately, the best and only way to catch a Ditto is by going out and catching any of the Pokémon it can transform into.
You’re relying on getting lucky with the RNG here, but since there’s only a few Pokémon which Ditto can actually be hiding as, you will eventually catch one if you go out and just catch every single one you come across. It might take some time, or it might take you a matter of minutes, but you will get one eventually.
Whatever you do, before you go out trying to catch one, just make sure you’re at the stage of a Special Research Task which asks you to do so, otherwise you’ll have to do this process all over again. Good luck, trainer.