Study finds the animal kingdom’s heaviest drinker
Researchers at the University of Alaska Anchorage have revealed how alcoholic hamsters are, discovering that the small rodents will regularly consume the human equivalent of a liter and a half of 95% alcohol per day.
The scientific study found that, if given the option of water and alcohol, hamsters will choose the booze, regularly consuming 18 grams per kilogram of body weight every day.
The study matches up with what experts have seen in the wild, where hamsters have been known to gather ryegrass seeds and fruit, allowing them to ferment and become alcoholic.
The latest investigation revealed that, while the tiny creatures are the most alcoholic creatures in the animal kingdom, they suffer from being lightweights due to the absence of a gene for alcohol metabolism.
The findings from researchers in Alaska follows an earlier investigation in 1960 that discovered hamsters will outdrink their fellow rodents, consuming alcohol “right from the pet store.”
In a recent Twitter thread, a UK critical care doctor, Tom Lawton, discussed a conversation he’d had with a microbiologist, where he discovered the “hamster’s prodigious capacity for alcohol.” Talking about the quantities hamsters can consume, Lawton highlighted how the small rodents “can tolerate relative quantities that would kill a human.”
Describing the study, an addiction researcher at the University of Florida, Danielle Gulick, stated that hamsters will “happily drink” immediately after being presented with alcohol, while other rodents need to develop a taste for it.
The research discovered that, unlike other animals, hamsters don’t just drink alcohol, but prefer it over other beverages. The Alaska study saw the small rodents readily consume Everclear, a 190-proof grain alcohol that is up to 95% volume.
One theory for why hamsters are so interested in booze is that they are drinking for calories, rather than to remain hydrated. This was seemingly confirmed by Gulick, who found that giving hamsters sucrose water could reduce alcohol intake, whereas calorie-free water had no effect.