UAA Scientists Measure Mobility of Drunk Hamsters
What do you get when you mix alcohol with small rodents? Drunk hamsters
ANCHORAGE - What do you get when you mix alcohol with small rodents? Drunk Hamsters.
What sounds like a joke is actually a research project at UAA, which is now in its third year.
UAA psychology professor Gwen Lupfer has studied a species called Siberian Dwarf Hamsters for many years, but she never considered getting one drunk until a student with a research project urged her to give it a try.
“She really wanted to look at alcoholism,” said Lupfer. “I told her there were lots of problems with giving hamsters alcohol. They probably wouldn’t drink it because most rodents refuse to drink alcohol.”
Much to Lupfer’s surprise the hamsters didn’t turn up their noses to the alcohol. They actually seemed to have a taste for Everclear.
When placed in a special box, the hamsters will turn a wheel so a sliding arm can deliver them a cup filled with alcohol. Lupfer said one surprising find is that the hamsters can drink quite a bit without becoming drunk.
“It takes ten times what it would take a human for a hamster to show any signs of intoxication at all.” That’s if the hamster actually drinks the alcohol.
Lupfer said the rodent’s livers metabolize it so quickly that it barely hits their bloodstream. So when researchers wanted to see how a really drunk hamster operates they injected the alcohol directly and waited to see what happened.
The hamsters were measured on a scale called Wobble and Splay. They got marks for passing out, being able to stand, wobbling around or even just walking with a slight wiggle. But they were still able to recover quickly.
Scientists said that’s because the hamsters have an amazing tolerance for alcohol. It’s hard to get them drunk and even harder for them to become addicted. This information will be used by UAA students for years to come and Lupfer said she has no doubt there will be plenty of volunteers.
“Students love working with drunk hamsters. Not surprisingly, I get lots of people who want to come and work with the drunk hamsters.”
To see more video of a drunk Siberian dwarf hamster, click here.