Why Hamsters Can’t Get Drunk: What Science Says

Hamsters Can’t Get Drunk

If you have been under the impression that you have a fair tolerance towards alcohol, then you need to check back with the animal kingdom. Now, the first thought that pops up in your mind is, who would even give alcohol to animals?

The answer is that they already get intoxicated and way more than you can imagine. Take butterflies for an example; they love a good drink because of the consumption of fermented fruits. Therefore, there are chances you might need to keep your beers hidden from butterflies.

Similarly, the animal kingdom is filled with plenty of alcoholics, but the biggest alcoholics aren’t the largest animals. That is to say, elephants behaving “funny” after eating fermented fruits was declared a myth by scientists in 2006 and completely rejected.

Alcoholic Hamsters

Before all else, have you heard about the Siberian dwarf hamsters that are employed in UAA’s Social Sciences Building? Yes, they are contributing to science and getting paid in chocolates and treats.

After all those video montages of drunken animals, there is no doubt that the wild has its way of being intoxicated. However, the biggest alcoholics come in small frames. This is where the tiny hamsters come in with not just tolerance but rather a preference to consume 15% ethanol instead of plain water. Yes, the exact quantity that would otherwise kill a full-grown human.

Hamsters have an incredibly high tolerance for alcohol, and it is nearly impossible to get a hamster decently drunk. In addition, it is not merely in research labs that hamsters would pick an alcoholic beverage of water any time of the day but even in the wild.

To clarify, hamsters run around the wild with their priorities set straight on finding fermented fruit and getting a good kick from it.

When researchers conducted the studies for a paper in Behavioral Processes journal, they used a wobble scale to determine how drunk hamsters get. Surprisingly, this study in 2015 showed that hamsters only averaged 0.5 on the scale, with 0 being the lowest and 4 being the highest. This average was taken after the tiny drunkards consumed enough alcohol content to completely knock out a fully grown man.

The conclusion was simple – hamsters are among the rare few species in the animal kingdom that possess a liver strong enough to efficiently break down alcohol. Hence, only a few traces remain in their bloodstream.

These little traces are just not enough to get them drunk. However, there is still a question as to why hamsters even chase the booze.

Why Hamsters Love Alcohol?

No one handles their booze as well as hamsters do. Research shows that hamsters normally consume over 18 grams per Kg of body weight a day. Using humans for scale, this is the same amount as 1.5 liter of 190-proof Everclear for humans.

You could go to a nearby pet store and offer alcohol to a hamster, and they’d happily accept it. Now, why do hamsters love alcohol so much?

There are several reasons why hamsters have such adoration for booze. The number one reason is their tastebuds. That is to say, these tiny critters have unique sensitivity to sweet tastes. In addition, the ethanol in booze can evoke a sweet flavor in the hamsters. Hence making it an intriguing and desirable consumable for their taste buds.

The second reason is something even humans experience as well – stress alleviation. Just like humans, hamsters also go through stress and, more commonly, in captivity. Alcohol has been proven to temporarily alleviate stress levels and soothe the nervous system. 

Although alcohol has serious consequences since the little hamsters have a strong enough liver, they are rather immune to them, and of course, they just don’t care.

Finally, among many other reasons, the notable one is behavioral mimicry. To clarify, hamsters have proven time and time again that they mimic certain human behaviors. Therefore, if you drink alcoholic beverages in front of your little friends, it will greatly intrigue them, and they will want more than a sip or two.

Surprisingly enough, the hamster alcohol obsession opens a strange yet fascinating avenue for research by offering insight into animal behavior in correlation with human preferences.

How Do Other Animals Compare to Hamsters?

There are plenty of alcoholics in the animal kingdom, and treeshrews, plantain squirrels, slow lorises, and other rodents are just a few examples. These mammals mostly get their fair share from the Malaysian bertam palm tree, containing approximately 3.8% ABV.

They mainly serve the purpose of a pollinator and, in return, acquire their booze. Similar to hamsters, most rodents have quite high alcohol tolerance. However, such is not the case for larger animals, as most animals that consume fermented fruits in nature exhibit proper drunk behavior.

That is to say, you might come across plenty of videos and clips that show intoxicated mammals doing unusual things that they would not normally do. On the other hand, considerably larger animals, such as elephants, come in a completely different category.

Their larger sizes make it so that they have to consume quantities that are proportional to their body weight and size. Therefore, for comparison in quantities hamsters take, it’d make a completely unfair competition.


Hamsters handle their booze way better than humans or any other creatures in the animal kingdom. However, they can simply not get drunk because of the strong livers they possess. It breaks the alcohol down out of existence in a way, and there’s just not enough in the bloodstream to get them wobbling.

Nevertheless, it is quite fascinating that such a little creature possesses this kind of powerful liver that would only get the hamsters to average 0.4 after consuming alcohol content, which is enough to completely blackout humans.

It is also fair to say hamsters are proper alcohol lovers mostly for the same reasons as humans.

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