Humans as Pets is now a thing. But not for AI (as in the linked question) but for the aliens.

This celebrity was seen with their human pet and now every alien kid is begging their parent to get one human as a gift for their next hatching anniversary.

Alien morals work differently from the human ones, so they decided that "as long as no one notices, we can provide ourselves as many humans as we like."

So the question is: How many humans can our aliens abduct without being noticed?

  • Aliens equip "cloaking devices" to their ships, so they can visit us without being detected.
  • Our aliens are not racist, so they will abduct anyone.
  • Aliens know how our Earth works, so they will focus on "under average Joes".
  • We want to abduct as many people as possible.
  • But also, we want to stop at a point when majority (65%) of people will start to think that "this is very weird".
  • After that, the aliens stop. They can breed other humans on their home planet anyway. But we need to cover the demand.
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    $\begingroup$ This will be a fun out-of-context question for the Hot Network Questions sidebar. $\endgroup$ – Keavon Aug 22 '15 at 8:21
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    $\begingroup$ Remember: Human is not a toy, its live animal. Do not give humans as a gift! $\endgroup$ – Pavel Janicek Aug 22 '15 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Keavon, can confirm, came from there $\endgroup$ – Ave Aug 22 '15 at 14:57
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    $\begingroup$ Abduct everyone! If there's no one left to notice you, you can't be noticed. $\endgroup$ – user2357112 supports Monica Aug 23 '15 at 5:29
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    $\begingroup$ This partially depends on who you abduct. For example, you would be noticed after abducting exactly 1 world leaders. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Aug 24 '15 at 18:29

16 Answers 16


If you hit up the developing world, potential abductions could number in the tens of millions. The developing world has a huge number of people who have negligible economic importance and live in countries that do not or cannot keep track of all their citizens.

From the World Bank:

This means that, in 2011, just over one billion people lived on less than $1.25 a day, compared with 1.91 billion in 1990, and 1.93 billion in 1981.

So from this large pool, the aliens should be able to get plenty of pets.

Abduction Strategy:

  • Target young men and women in remote, economically depressed villages. It is common for them to leave for the big city. They will be missed but those who remain will think they just left for the city and didn't tell anyone. Or grab those who have already left.
  • Find out the missing persons rate for a given country, if known, and keep your abductions within the statistical tolerance for that rate.
  • Not all humans are equal. Alien children will have preferences for a given age, gender and skin color for their pets. Some humans are easier to abduct without detection. If the alien children want educated white females from the developed world, the supply will be considerably smaller than dark skinned males and females with no education.
  • Warzones are especially good places to abduct humans as accountability in those areas is especially low and there's an existing narrative to cover the absences.

Build a breeding population

Based on this answer, the minimum population of humans without special attention to genetics is 5000 individuals. Abducting this many humans is trivially easy and far below the detection threshold. While pet production from this population would be incredibly slow, pets from this population can be sold as boutique pets, specially bred to be pets, far better than pets caught in the wild.

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps target young men and women already traveling from remote, economically depressed villages. Lots of families lose all contact anyway and it cuts down on the chances of people disappearing who had really good reasons to stay a little longer. $\endgroup$ – Murphy Aug 24 '15 at 11:28
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    $\begingroup$ Low income areas, so-called transients, and displaced (due to war, natural disaster, etc.) individuals would be ideal targets. $\endgroup$ – Wayne Werner Aug 24 '15 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ This explains the TianJin "explosion" $\endgroup$ – emory Aug 24 '15 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ I doubt you have to restrict yourself to the developing world. The First World has a sizable homeless people. If their absence is noted at all, it will be by politicians claiming credit for "solving a problem." $\endgroup$ – emory Aug 24 '15 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ Why not abduct an entire village at once? There are isolated nomadic tribes out there that you could abduct without people noticing. For that mater if you abduct the right groups of people even if they do notice no one will pay attention to them and/or think they are making it up. We sometimes have little respect for 'primitive' tribes, if one of them says that their people are magically disappearing many my write it off as superstitions out of those silly 'primitives' $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 25 '15 at 18:26

Judging from this: http://www.unicef.org/media/media_81518.html your aliens could drop into a town in Nigeria, shoot half the adults, abduct absolutely everyone else, Boko Haram would get the blame and the enslaved children would be better off than if it actually had been BH.

Or you could go to Yemen and simply abduct people at gun point. So long as you looked like a human no one would suspect a thing!

But that's taking the third world approach that all the other answers did. Let's try going for the more expensive option. The UK deals with a missing person report about once every 2 minutes - 306,000 a year (http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/475-one-recorded-every-two-minutes-missing-persons-figures-released) - with "almost 97% being found safe and well". That's about 10,000 actually disappearing each year. I reckon you could nudge that up by 1K and people would invent an explanation for the rise. 3K and people would stop guessing why and start trying to work it out.

So even if we assume the whole world is as ordered as the UK: UK population: 64 million. Number of people who can vanish before you attract attention: maybe 2K? World population: 7000 million. Number of people who can vanish: 200K.

If we assume the world is as ordered as Chad or Sudan, however, then I'd say at least 100 times that many before it stops being blamed on warfare and religion, making 20 million.

Reality will be somewhere between those figures. A couple of million, say. Give or take a zero, that sort of number.

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    $\begingroup$ Per year. In fact, I'd say if you did it every year for a few years you could even push the numbers up since it wouldn't cause a spike in the missing-person stats. just a gradual climb. $\endgroup$ – Murphy Aug 24 '15 at 11:33
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    $\begingroup$ Wait, what if the 10k people never found in UK are actually kidnapped by aliens? $\endgroup$ – Cano64 Aug 24 '15 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ I think I would need an increase in missing persons rate much more than 10% to even begin considering aliens. $\endgroup$ – Davidmh Aug 24 '15 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ If the UK is anything like the US, the "10,000 annual disappearances" is mostly children being abducted by the other parent as part of a custody dispute. $\endgroup$ – Mark Aug 24 '15 at 22:51
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    $\begingroup$ Some of the 3 percent not found safe and well are still found, but not safe nor well. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Aug 25 '15 at 23:20

The flow of desperate migrants from Syria and North Africa hoping to reach Europe is already much higher than in the same period in 2014.

Germany, which receives by far the most asylum applications in the EU, is expecting 800,000 refugees to arrive this year.


There are many gangs of people-smugglers who are taking advantage of such migrants.

The aliens could replace or employ the people-smugglers to divert the migrants to them. European governments would feel relieved that they no longer had to deal with the influx and so might not be motivated to investigate too assiduously.

Alternatively the aliens could simply turn up with a space-shuttle that has been disguised as a train or bus and is marked "To Europe" in the local language. They will literally have people (usually with no identity papers) fighting to get on it, no questions asked.

enter image description here


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    $\begingroup$ While as someone also from EU, I love that joke, but - wouldnt we realise someting? Like: "Yesterday we assumed that there will be more refugees and today there is no one?" I think that would get noticed pretty soon... $\endgroup$ – Pavel Janicek Aug 22 '15 at 13:52
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    $\begingroup$ Well, it wasn't intended as a joke. Just a straightforward answer. I don't see any of this as amusing. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 22 '15 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ @PavelJanicek I think the border control in the EU would be too relieved to express much surprise at the idea. $\endgroup$ – March Ho Aug 23 '15 at 2:13
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    $\begingroup$ I think that there's even better way of doing things... Many of those people come to Europe in inflatable rubber boats of various sizes operated by smugglers. Those boats quite often sink. It would be extremely easy to just pick one of them up and nobody would literally notice it. Another option is to abduct smaller groups when they're on foot. Just yesterday several groups managed to penetrate border between Macedonia and Greece and were out of sight of authorities, on foot, in countryside away from civilization, for quite a while. Perfect chance to make some disappear. $\endgroup$ – AndrejaKo Aug 23 '15 at 10:50
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK: it's probably easier than e.g. building an interstellar craft ;-) $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Aug 24 '15 at 19:14

They can abduct over 50k people easily.

They first need to check out the countries in war, and pick one of them. It'd be better if they had nuclear weapons. For example, North Korea and South Korea are at war. A cold war, but it is declared. Also North Korea has nuclear weapons. Actually, now is the perfect time.

They first abduct the humans there, very, very quickly. Then, they act like one country bombed the place where they abducted them. According to the Wikipedia page about Hiroshima and Nagasaki Explosion states that 70,000–146,000+ killed in the Hiroshima explosion. So we can think that ~70,000 bodies were found and ~76,000 wasn't (146-70), so instead of vaporizing ~76,000 people, they can just abduct them.

  • $\begingroup$ Also my first answer on WB.SE, but I love the community here. $\endgroup$ – Ave Aug 22 '15 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ And when things cooled and they didn't find bodies.... $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Aug 23 '15 at 3:09
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    $\begingroup$ that would risk starting a full-fledged world apocalypse $\endgroup$ – njzk2 Aug 23 '15 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ @ardaozkal probably. but that implies that the aliens are ready to anihilate humanity on earth. (which may also be an interesting plot element) $\endgroup$ – njzk2 Aug 23 '15 at 16:32
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    $\begingroup$ There were ~76,000 missing bodies, so they just included them in the amount of death as "70,000–146,000+ killed" 146k-70k = 76k. $\endgroup$ – Ave Aug 23 '15 at 18:16

Abduct the Abductors

These aliens have all sorts of advanced technology right? They can easily find all the nasty people, and remove them from the populations that keep statistics of missing people. They'll then be able to abduct more people and still make the statistics look flat.

  • $\begingroup$ Assuming direct control? $\endgroup$ – Nick Dzink Aug 3 '17 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ but then you'd have abducted more abductors than they would have abducted, since abductors-to-abductees (A2A) ratio is more than 1, also abductors wouldn't make good pets since they bit and scratch the furniture (their cage). Some would argue that in human trafficking rings the A2A rate is way less than 1 but the counter argument is that the number of people abducted outside the human trafficking business is far more than humans trafficked. $\endgroup$ – workoverflow May 2 '18 at 12:51

Because this is so profitable, a new strategy has arisen by Human-Pet Corp. that allows huge numbers of pet extractions per year.

1) They have extended fast growth biotech that allows them to grow a replacement body in 24 hours. The body is not viable as a pet, but makes an excellent human corpse to replace the abductee.

2) They have added a global monitoring network that allow them to detect humans near the point of death. By detecting this over 24 hours in advance, they can quick-grow a replacement and make the swap before the person dies.

3) Their advanced medical care allow them the ability to restore the pets to full health and market value in nearly every case. Even old-age is not a problem for their health care.

55 million people die each year. Human Pet Corp can salvage about 50 million of these. Best thing is, the pets are grateful for their new lease on life and since so many of them had a miserable existence they are totally happy and think they have gone to heaven. Just not the heaven they were hoping for.


All of them (or at least as many as they want)

Depending on how you define "as long as no one notices", aliens could come and take anyone.

There are current 6 billion people on Earth, and Earthlings are by and large, prolific breeders. Earthlings go missing everyday, even children go missing, in fact heads-of-state have been known to disappear without a trace and will relatively little fanfare over a long enough time frame. Grimly enough, Earthlings do a good enough job of wholesale "person disappearance" that alien intervention could be explained to the appropriate Galactic authorities as a charitable act.

Given how adaptable humans are to very minor changes over time, and given that an abduction would probably leave a bit of a mess, at first it would be chalked up to a minor localised crime-wave.

I mean no one would thing to look at missing persons across the globe to see a spike in missing people all around the same time.

Its also important to know that birth-control is an issue for humans, not population sustainability. In the third-world childbirth rates need to be high enough to combat infant mortality and produce a high enough population for subsistence farming. Its highly likely that humanity could easily produce enough pets without denting the global population

Obviously the more famous the pet you want, the more it will cost you...

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    $\begingroup$ no one would thing to look at missing persons across the globe to see a spike in missing people all around the same time Hot Question on Skeptics.SE: "Have missing persons been increasing with statistical significance across the globe in the last six month?" $\endgroup$ – Michael Aug 24 '15 at 1:18
  • $\begingroup$ @michael Please link it too! $\endgroup$ – akaltar Aug 24 '15 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ @akaltar I think it was a joke... $\endgroup$ – user2547 Aug 24 '15 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ @LegoStormtroopr Oh..... $\endgroup$ – akaltar Aug 25 '15 at 1:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Michael close as non-notable. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Grimm Nov 12 '15 at 2:23

Continuing with the migration / refugee idea, you could abduct boat-loads of migrants at a time currently crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Anyone who noticed them missing would just assume that their boat has sunk as is tragically happening at the moment.

Could be done out of sight of everyone and with minimal investigation.

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    $\begingroup$ Minimal? If no bodies wash up, there would no investigation at all. $\endgroup$ – Thorne Mar 23 '18 at 3:42

Sure, anybody can kidnap humans from countries wracked by poverty and civil war, but you're trying to supply premium-quality humans from an affluent society with a strong school system. How about Japanese people and South Koreans?

Dress up as North Korean agents, and leave enough clues as to what country did it but not who in particular. South Korea and Japan will blame North Korea. North Korea will deny it. They might think that they did it, but don't want to acknowledge it, or they might think that Japan and South Korea are deliberately exaggerating the extent of kidnapping. No-one will think the situation is weird.

The only risk is the TV Trope "Not Me This Time": if North Korea decides to be completely honest with Japan and South Korea, listing all of the cases where they did kidnap, and who they didn't.


About 1/4 million per year - that's how many people are missing (20 year average) according to http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1308/S00441/4432880-missing-persons-vanished-in-past-20-years.htm

If you increase it gradually enough, I think pretty much any number - we get used to things pretty quickly.

If you kept it under (remaining population)/(Dunbar's number) per decade, and had it evenly distributed, then most people would know about 1 person missing per decade - not enough to raise suspicion. Dunbar's number is a "suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships" (from Wikipedia), and varies, but is usually considered to be about 150. This comes out at about 45 million. As I mentioned, you'd need to ramp up to this gradually.

Depending on how much intel you have, you could increase this substantially - anyone who has not spend X hours with other people in the last month; wars are pick & mix; anyone out at sea; in storms/floods/earthquakes. Any situation where personal communication is down for a period. Grab the odd plane; mountain climbers etc.; people with depression. Or, induce depression first, wait a while, then grab them.

Monitor mass media carefully, if there are any reports, stay at that level for a while - people will get bored of the news if it comes up regularly.

If you can replace them with fake corpses, it's even easier. Replace a pile of prostitutes with fake corpses (optionally framing someone), wait for the news story to hit, then start introducing "copycat killings" - wait for that to hit, repeat, repeat, repeat. Gradually generalize who gets killed - start with someone cliche (prostitute), then each "copycat" takes a different aspect from the newspaper - one "copycat" may target women, another the clientele of the prostitute, a third poor people; in the next generation, women becomes professional women, clientele becomes men in general, poor people killings are "copied" as African-American (implying a racist element). Each subsequent "copycat" takes one element from the mass media reporting, and so over time mutates the target.


Take a look at this link NCIC Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics for 2013. Who knows, maybe some part of this persons are abducted by aliens, and we don't know it?

If aliens breed humans, they need to have at least 20.000 persons to prevent inbreeding (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_viable_population), sorry, i was unable to find link for 20k, it was explained for me in colledge, but i have forgotten the details. So, probably aliens need to abduct healthy males and made them fathers for many children.

So, i think majority of healthy males/females disappeared can be victims of abduction.

UPD: if i was an alien, i would try to abduct solitude and condemned, likely to disappear to obvious means (not linked to aliens), persons - solders during war, sailors in sea (and sink the ship), passengers of planes just before the plane crash, tourists in wilderness, homeless persons during winter, orphans.

UPD 2: other link missing persons

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    $\begingroup$ Minimum population is discussed here and restoring genetic diversity here. Twenty thousand is orders of magnitude higher. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 22 '15 at 13:36

In this episode of sg1 the computer revises everyone's memories as they remove them from the population:

Over 100,000 people used to live in the dome. As the power level drops, the computer shrinks the dome and kills excess people by making them leave the protected area. To keep the people level-headed during this process, all memories of the people who departed are removed from their minds.


In addition to the answers about taking refugees and people from developing countries, a significant number can be abducted from developed countries too, as long as you stick to the already downtrodden.

There have been several incidents of serial killers targeting prostitutes (think Jack the Ripper, se fx this list on wikipedia). It would seem that authorities are mainly alarmed to these kind of killers when bodies start to heap up. So a serial abductor not leaving bodies behind would be able to snatch a much larger number before anyone got suspicious.

Add to that targeting runaways and drug addicts, and from several, if not all cities at once, and you have a huge number.

The Colombian serial killer that admitted to killing 140 children is suspected of killing more than 400. Again, if the bodies hadn't showed up (and he had snatched a child that wasn't an orphan), nothing would have happened and he wouldn't have been caught. At least according to the documentaries about him that can be found. And he only worked in one geographical area. Multiply this by the rest of the world.


Check recent news reports about mass graves at migrant camps. There are thousands of dead victims of human traffickers that have been found - it doesn't take much imagination to think how many haven't been found because they were better hidden. And in order for there not to be mass panics and for people to keep using the traffickers, there would have to be a reasonable prospect of getting to your destination, so many more people would be in transit. They've already disappeared, as far as anyone knows.

The sad fact is that there's no need for the aliens to set up a breeding population on their own world. They could easily take tens of millions of people every year from around the world without anyone noticing, and those people would almost certainly be destined for a better life than where they were. Unless they choose to breed for particular characteristics, or unless transportation is particularly expensive, it'd be much easier just to keep picking them up.


Lot of answers here are assuming that abducting people from developing countries will be easier but what they are forgetting to include is the Cultural / Social aspects of developing nations. In general, people in developing countries are socially very well connected and people know about each other a lot. So if Aliens abducts people from there , other people will notice soon.

If the authorities will care for those missing people, is a different question.


You can get millions of healthy, educated pets in one swoop. Drop a big rock on one of the modern, major cities of the world. Grab everyone close enough to ground zero that their bodies likely wouldn't be found.


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