Behavioral Sink: The Mouse Utopia Experiments

In 1972, John B. Calhoun built an utopia for mice. Every aspect of Universe 25, as this particular model was called, was designed to cater for the well-being of its rodent residents, increase their lifespan, and allow them to mate. It was not the first time the ethologist had built a world for rodents. Colhoun had been creating utopian environments for rats and mice since the 1940s, with consistent results: overpopulation leads to explosive violence and hypersexual activity, followed by asexuality, self-destruction, and extinction.

“Escaping the Laboratory: The Rodent Experiments of John B. Calhoun & Their Cultural Influence,” from Edmund Ramsden & Jon Adams : or

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This video was made with the support of our Patrons: Adam Berry, Alex Rodriguez, Andrea Basillio Rava, Angela, ArkiTechy, Artur, azad bel, Badrah, Bernd Gaertner, Cedric.Wang, Daniele Diniz, David Markham, Delandric Webb, Digital INnov8ors, Dr. Matthias Müller-Mellin, Duane Bemister, Eva Marie Koblin, Fatenah G Issa, Floris Devreese, Frari63, Gerry Labelle, Ginger, Harmoniac Design, ICH KANN DEUTSCH UND ES WAR EINFACH!, Izzy, Jannes Kroon, Jeffrey Cassianna, Jim Pilgrim, Joanne Doyle, John Burghardt, Jonathan Schwarz, Jorge Luis Mejia Velazquez, jun omar ebdane, Khadijah Sellers, Leonel, Linda Kinkead, Linus Linderoth, Lucia Simone Winston, Marcel, María, martin, Mathis Nu, Mezes.Macko, Michael Paradis, Mindozone, Natalie O’Brien, Nick Valerio, Nicki, Okan Elibol, Oweeda Newton, Peter Bishop, Povilas Ambrasas, Raymond Fujioka, Roel Vermeulen, Scott Gregory, scripz, Sebastian Huaytan Meder, Si, Stefan Gros, Stephen Clark, Stuart Bishop, Takashi HIROSE, Thomas Aschan, Tristan Scifo, Victor Paweletz, Yassine Hamza, Yvonne Clapham and all the others.Thank you! To join them visit

Script: Edmund Ramsden & Jon Adams
Editor: Will Wiles, a London-based author and journalist
Screenplay: Jonas Koblin
Artist: Pascal Gaggelli
Voice: Matt Abbott
Coloring: Nalin
Editing: Peera Lertsukittipongsa
Sound Design: Miguel Ojeda
Fact Checking: Ludovico Saint Amour di Chanaz
Production: Selina Bador

Toys Are Alive – Studio Le Bus
Terror Avenue – Jack Pierce
Divine Masquerade – Jack Pierce

DIG DEEPER with these top videos, games and resources:
Watch Soylent Green, 1973. The film depicts a futuristic society in which overpopulation is so catastrophic and food in such short supply that the populace survives on rations of the titular food product, which turns out to be made from processed human flesh.

Watch Snowpiercer (Netflix, 2020) depicting a society in a train where population has to be controlled and the ecosystem rests on a very thin equilibrium.

Read about Behavioral Sink on Longreads

Read about the life and work of John B Calhoun

Edmund Ramsden & Jon Adams, “Escaping the Laboratory: The Rodent Experiments of John B. Calhoun & Their Cultural Influence,” The Journal of Social History, vol. 42, no. 3 (2009). Available as a working paper at or

The Behavioral Sink, the mouse universes of John B. Calhoun by Will Wiles

Death Squared: The Explosive Growth and Demise of a Population

John B. Calhoun, “Death Squared: The Explosive Growth and Demise of a Mouse Population,” in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, vol. 66 (January 1973), pp. 80–88. Available at

John B. Calhoun, “Population Density and Social Pathology,” Scientific American, vol. 206, no. 2 (February 1962), pp. 139–150. Available at

Visit our website to learn more on suggested activity for a classroom on this topic!

00:00 Introduction
00:11 Universe 25 experiment
00:51 Beginning of experiment
01:18 Population growth
02:25 Population peaks
02:59 The last conception
04:10 Behavioral sink
04:56 What do you think?
05:26 Patrons credits
05:35 Ending

#sproutsschools, #universe25, #behavior, #utopia

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