Psychologists strive for breakthroughs by studying sexual preference in hamsters
Our Most Outrageously Asinine award goes to researchers at Cornell University for their study of the sexual inclination of hamsters to mate with a “foreign” hamster.
Psychologists studied the sexual habits of Turkish as compared to Syrian hamsters. The object was to see whether female Turkish hamsters would readily mate with male Syrian hamsters. They explain that they had studied the Syrian hamsters in a prior experiment. Since this line of research started in 1998, it has given them lots of time to create all sorts of comparisons.
First they exposed the racially different hamsters to each other for eight days in adjacent cages with a mesh barrier, so they could see and smell each other. Next they placed them in a cage together for five minutes and observed whether the female was “sexually receptive” to the male. They then repeated the five minute pairing of the same female Turkish hamster with a male Turkish hamster who she had not seen before.
They compared the two pairings and concluded that female Turkish hamsters were more likely to copulate with a “foreign” hamster than female Syrian hamsters.
One of the essential questions they surmounted was whether the female Turkish hamsters would “learn” to avoid a foreign mate. The conclusion is that they don’t, but apparently Syrian hamsters do.
All this came at a cost of approximately $300,000 annually from a federal grant bestowed by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The entire grant, which began in 1998, has cost over $2.3 million.
NIMH’s mission statement claims it is “paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure” of mental illness by fostering “innovative thinking and novel scientific perspectives. In this way, breakthroughs in science can become breakthroughs for all people with mental illness.”
Clearly, we have a long way to go if money continues to be sunk into this kind of asinine research.
What You Can Do
Please help IDA in speaking out about the millions of dollars that fund this sort of outrageously wasteful and terribly cruel research on animals. It’s time to put a stop to it. The US economy is in crisis, making this even more urgent to address.
Click here to contact your US Senators and Congressperson. Ask for much stricter oversight for granting money to animal research. Insist that all NIH-funded experiments comply with its stated mission “to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.”
You can also call your elected officials. Find their phone numbers, or call the US Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.
Anacker AM, Ahern TH, Young LJ, Ryabinin AE. “The role of early life experience and species differences in alcohol intake in microtine rodents.” PLoS One. 012;7(6):e39753.