Let's say we have a society with people (living creatures with human-like intelligence) of vastly different sizes, from mouse-sized to elephants. People have jobs like us humans do: some physically heavy, some require detailed craftsmanship, some intellectual work.

In our world, small animals have populations that easily dwarf human or even elephant sized species. Would it likely be the same in the supposed society?

  • $\begingroup$ The main problem is that animals with very different sizes most usually have very different lifespans, and of course very different time between generations. Mice live for a few years (rarely more than three), extremely well-kept rats may reach 4 or 5 years, dogs enjoy about 10 to 12 years on this world, cats about 15 to 18, a human's life is three score and ten years. (Elephants have about the same lifespan as humans, and usually shorter. Go figure.) For the "small" people of your world, life is too short to have a meaningful education; and they will leave numerous offspring. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ I also had these questions when I watched Zootopia. $\endgroup$
    – workerjoe
    Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 19:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ or we talking about the same race? or a civilisation with different species of differente size? $\endgroup$
    – shas
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 8:16
  • $\begingroup$ You wouldn't be able to grow a human to elephant size without them having severe problems - shrinking humans to mouse size just wouldn't work. I know those aren't humans but I can't think of any complex species with that much difference in size between members. You wouldn't be able to blow up or shrink a creature this much and for it to still be viable. So I'm assuming this is a multi-species society $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 10:18

3 Answers 3


Logistics and Reproduction: r and K Strategies

The difference in number of creatures is mostly due to resource requirements and the strategy for reproduction. Both of these reasons should be factors in your world when you want it to be very sensible.

Obviously, you can have a higher population of a creature when it requires less food, shelter, and water than a larger creature. This is simple logistics/economics. It stands to reason that, everything else being equal, the small folk will eventually outnumber the big folk due to resource requirements.

Concerning reproduction: many biologists look at the various reproduction strategies of species as a spectrum between investing a lot of resources in few offspring and investing few resources in many offspring. It's called r/K selection theory.

In short, when a critter is small and life is cheap, it is better to have a lot of babies and therefore have a higher population. Some number will make it to adulthood by mere chance. When life is dear and a lot of stuff goes to each child, it is better to have fewer and take good care of them.

What About Society and Thinking?

This society of big and small folk could buck these trends. There would need to be some artificial pressure for little people to not outstrip the large people in population. Maybe they require some more rare resources which limits their numbers? Maybe there is some policy or cultural pressure to only have a few kids?


Short answer yes. The larger you are the more resource you need. larger animals Who reproduced too quickly could easily go extinct If they didn't spread out because they would consume too many resources.

On the other hand Smaller animals are usually weaker and more in danger then larger animals and are usually someones food resource. Because of this it makes more sense to have as many kids as possible since so many of them are going to die.


Killing intelligent species is a crime

In our world, humans are intelligent and animals are not. So killing humans is a crime while killing and eating animals is not.

Unlawful killing will cause war

In your supposed society, all creatures are intelligent (living creatures with human-like intelligence). Killing any intelligent person (of any species or race) will be a crime. Big animals will not be able to eat small animals as they will protest and force the authorities to pass laws for their protection otherwise there will be a war using weapons.

Distribution of resources

All species are intelligent so they will demand fair distribution of resources. Unfair distribution of resources will lead to chaos, revolutions, wars as happened in human societies in colonial era.

Population will adjust to resources

If there is no colonialism, slavery, oppression and all species have equal rights on all the resources, then population of all the species will adjust to the available resources.


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