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Why Hamsters Should Never Drink and Get Inside the Wheel

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A recent study involving hamsters and alcohol brings up the burning question whether or not scientists who come up with these ideas are not themselves the victims of too many liquid lunches featuring yellow Jell-O shooters.  Seriously, who gets to the office in the morning , slips on a white uniform and says:  “Today, let’s take a common, cuddly household pet, famous for going around and around and around inside a tiny ferris wheel, and introduce the little bugger to vodka martinis?”  All in favour, raise your glasses and sing ‘For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow!’”

Okay, point taken,  You’re right.  If I had an office and a white jacket, I would probably do that.  But first, I would dress the hamsters up in tiny tuxedos, give them noise makers and send them into the streets in toy motorized cars.  I would do this just to see the look on the face of the traffic cop who had to pull them over.

So this half-in-the-bag hamster experiment was conducted by researchers at the American Physiological Society whose motto is:  “Let’s get out of these lab coats and into a beaker of Jack Daniels.”  Wouldn’t you love to work for the government agency that provides funding for these kinds of experiments?  “Cloning the wooly mammoth?  Nope.  Is tickling a natural or learned response?  Ha. Ha. Ha. No.  The effect of LSD on elephants?  Crazy.  Oh here’s one.  Let’s get hamsters all hooched-up and watch them bump into each other.  I like it.”

Quite simply, the scientists organized a herd of hamsters into three groups, ranging from teetotalers to moderate drinkers to lurching drunkards.  The first group of hamsters drank water only.  The next group drank water laced with 10 percent alcohol.  The last group was given the equivalent amount of alcohol consumed by a Toronto Maple Leaf fan coming to grips with yet another losing season at a tailgate party outside the Air Canada Centre sponsored by Forty Creek Whisky.  Following the street party, three hamsters from the third group were charged with urinating in public and defacing Phil Kessel’s Hummer.

So imagine hamsters nibbling at tubes of water, water mixed with 10 percent alcohol and water laced with 20 percent alcohol.  The results?  Well, this will likely come as a real shock to you, but guess what?  They really liked the alcohol.  They actually preferred the water with alcohol to pure water.  In fact they liked the alcohol so much that when a lab technician tried to remove the bottles with alcohol she was knocked to the floor and the hamsters rifled through her personal belongings until they located the cough syrup.  Drunkenness among the heavy-drinking hamsters led to fighting and indiscriminate sex causing one scientist to equate it to “a human office party held at Christmas time.”

Why am I not surprised the lab animals took to alcohol in a relatively short period of time?  Well, if they put me in a cage surrounded by a bunch of creepy people staring at me all day long, I’m reaching for the hard stuff every chance I get.

The scientists conducting this experiment also discovered that the hamsters drank more after dark.  And after consuming as much alcohol as they wanted for three days, the hamsters had trouble telling what time of day it was, which is precisely why humans pay a guy behind the bar to shout out “last call” at the end of the night.  It’s called closing time – when all the women are beautiful and all the men should ignore them and go home with cab drivers instead.

Although scientists considered naming the phenomenon in which rodents get really plastered the Hamster Hasselhoff Syndrome, no animal got so drunk it attempted to eat a meal off the floor of its cage.  (Seriously, Google David Hasselhoff eating a burger.  ‘The Hoff’ appears to be trying to headbutt a moving hamburger which is doing an excellent job of avoiding his mouth.  The voice of David Hasselhoff  sounds like that of a hammered hamster.)

Fortunately for the hamsters in the experiment, one week after all alcohol was removed from the water bottles, their lives returned to normal.  None of them suffered any ill health effects, all of them seemed to really enjoy returning to the little hamster wheels and two of them joined Christian Mingle.

So the conclusion of the experiment is that hamsters handle alcohol about as well as humans do, but my point is, why waste perfectly good booze on rodents?  Why not find a group of humans with the same failings that lead to alcohol abuse – low self esteem, unrealistic expectations and shattered dreams.  In other words, why not provide free and unlimited cocktails to all delegates of the next Democratic National Convention and videotape the results?

Am I the only one that finds these animal/alcohol experiments silly, wasteful and okay, a tad too close to home?  Can we please get back to injecting mice with stem cells and leave alcohol to the professionals— that is, three guys named Bob at The Belmont Hotel.

For comments, ideas and copies of The True Story of  Wainfleet, go to www.williamthomas.ca

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