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Monkeys as Pets: Guidelines and Basic Tips

Janhvi Johorey
By Janhvi Johorey, Psychologist specialized in animal therapy. May 24, 2017
Monkeys as Pets: Guidelines and Basic Tips

The jury's still out on whether having a pet monkey is a good idea or a violation of basic rights of the animals to freedom of movement and existence. Keeping a pet monkey is a big commitment and no, it's not as simple as running off to a pet store and getting a simian friend for life.

Monkeys belong to the primate order. It is a generic name that includes the New World monkeys from Central and South America, which tend to be quite small, and the larger tree-dwelling Old World monkeys, found in Asia and Africa. Each of these monkeys is unique and this influences whether they will make good pets.

If you're wondering whether you can keep monkeys as pets, stay with us at AnimalWised. We'll give you some guidelines and basic tips to help you make up your mind.

You may also be interested in: Marmosets as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips
  1. Can you keep monkeys as pets?
  2. What are monkeys in captivity like?
  3. Is it legal to keep monkeys as pets?
  4. Adopting a pet monkey
  5. What do monkeys in captivity need?
  6. Should monkeys be kept as pets?

Can you keep monkeys as pets?

Squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, macaques, and capuchins are just some of the monkey species that people consider keeping as pets. Another common monkey to consider is the marmoset; if that's what you were thinking about, take a look at our article on marmosets as pets for specific guidance.

Sociable yet nervous, monkeys need a lot of space. Although all monkeys have roughly the same basic requirements, larger monkeys obviously need more room. Bringing a monkey into your house is a massive commitment because unlike cats and dogs, they cannot be left alone for long periods of time.

What are monkeys in captivity like?

Once your pet monkey develops a close attachment to you, they will follow you everywhere. Remember that monkeys have a much longer lifespan than other animals. The average life expectancy of a monkey in captivity is of around 20 to 40 years, although it depends on the species. Keeping monkeys as pets is the commitment of a lifetime.

Once they become mature, the behavior of captive monkeys can become unpredictable. Remember this when you are thinking of adopting a pet monkey. Monkeys tend to bond with some people only and might start developing negative reactions to your close companions.

That said, once you decide you have the interest, commitment, resources and temperament to handle a pet monkey, you can definitely go ahead, because they are incredibly affectionate, intelligent and endearing animals.

Monkeys as Pets: Guidelines and Basic Tips - What are monkeys in captivity like?

Is it legal to keep monkeys as pets?

It is also important to check if keeping a pet monkey is allowed in your state or country. More countries and states are passing laws to protect primates and bear in mind that it is illegal to carry your pet monkey into the US. Traveling abroad with a pet monkey is also a strict no-no. Monkeys are sensitive creatures and they can get easily unsettled with displacement.

Adopting a pet monkey

Look for a breeder with a humane reputation, and check exotic animal shelters. Do your research and check if they have the permit to keep and give monkeys for adoption. Check the monkey's health record and behavior before taking on the commitment.

Make sure you have a connection and find an exotic animal veterinary doctor to care for your pet. Regular vets will not be able to care for your monkey.

What do monkeys in captivity need?

Build or purchase a monkey cage that is large enough for your pet monkey to enjoy freedom of movement - the specific size will depend on the particular species. All monkeys need plenty of space to run, explore and play with themselves and others. Small cages can make the animal feel aggressive and suffocated. Be sure to follow regulations that make it easy to save the animal from an unsavory experience.

The diet for a pet monkey will depend on their species, as some monkeys are omnivores and others are exclusively herbivores. In general, fruits, veggies and clean water are a must. Specialized stores also sell commercial food for monkeys, including monkey biscuits.

Other items to feed your monkey can include cooked, mild chicken, mealworms, grasshoppers, boiled eggs, curd, rice, nuts, and grains. Sugary treats, ice cream, junk food or raw meat should never ever be fed to a monkey. Extra vitamins may be needed to keep your pet healthy. Ask your vet for advice.

Monkeys as Pets: Guidelines and Basic Tips - What do monkeys in captivity need?

Should monkeys be kept as pets?

Some of the reasons why the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) does not advocate keeping primates as pets is their lifestyle, dietary patterns, environmental needs and other medical factors. Therefore, here at AnimalWised we must state that you shouldn't keep monkeys as pets.

Monkeys need plenty of space to be happy and healthy. Even when born in captivity, they need to stay with their species and live in similar conditions to those in the wild as much as possible. Forests or urban jungles, the best place for a monkey is a free one. Pet monkeys eventually outgrow their owners, according to many animal experts. Don't jail a monkey for life, it deserves to be free. Consider this before you take on a monkey for a pet.

If you want to read similar articles to Monkeys as Pets: Guidelines and Basic Tips, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.

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Monkeys as Pets: Guidelines and Basic Tips