Scientists researching alcohol consumption have found that laboratory mice show similar drinking patterns to humans, including binge drinking.
Researchers in Indiana found that selectively bred mice drink more alcohol than others, choosing alcohol in preference to other drinks.
The mice, bred over 40 generations, will help researchers at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus study the behavioural and genetic causes of alcoholism.
The mice can reach blood alcohol levels of more than 260mg/decilitre per day, the equivalent of three-times the legal driving limit. The mice were also found to be generally nocturnal drinkers.
Another study was carried out to see how the drunken rodents performed on a balance beam.
"The free-choice drinking demonstrated by the new mouse line provides a unique opportunity to study the excessive intake that often occurs in alcohol-dependent individuals and to explore the predisposing factors for excessive consumption," Associate Professor Nicholas Grahame, the study's senior author, said in the journal Addiction Biology.
Mice are considered excellent specimens for the study of alcoholism, because they share 80 percent of their genes with human and the risk of developing the disease is thought to have both genetic and behavioural factors.