Disclaimer: Pet Keen does not endorse or encourage keeping Marmoset monkeys or other non-human primates as pets. This article is for informative purposes only.
It’s rare to see a human with a pet monkey, but when we do, we think,” Wow! How lucky are they?” Marmoset monkeys, also called finger monkeys, are tiny animals that are almost too cute to resist. Even though owning an exotic pet seems like a fun idea, the amount of work that goes into taking care of these animals isn’t ideal for most people. While it is possible to keep a marmoset as a pet, it is not something that we, or most monkey experts, would advise.
What Are Marmoset Monkeys?
Marmosets are the littlest monkey species in the world. They live in the wild in countries including Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil where they spend their days high in the treetops of lush rainforests. Adults are only 4 to 6 inches long, and this doesn’t include their lengthy tails that stretch an additional 6 to 9 inches. The female marmosets are usually larger than the males, and their offspring and so small that they can cling their whole body against a human finger.
Of course, their tiny size has given them nicknames like the pocket monkey, thumb monkey, and little lion. Marmosets are facing severe habitat destructions and, although they aren’t endangered just yet, they could be on their way if they run out of ways to adapt.
Life as a Marmoset Monkey
Most monkeys are social creatures, and the marmoset isn’t any different. They live in small groups and the females are able to give birth twice a year. Most mothers give birth to a set of twins, but single or triplet births are possible as well. The males play a major role in the raising of their children. Offspring are carried around by the fathers for the first two weeks of life and often receive help from other juvenile monkeys in the group.
Marmoset monkeys live between 12 to 16 years in the wild, though their lifespan can reach up to 22 years in captivity. Wild marmosets lose their lives more quickly, mainly from falling from high trees. They have sharp, long nails to help them cling to branches and narrow teeth that help them feed on sap from trees or small insects and fruits. One unique characteristic they have is the ability to rotate their heads 180 degrees while scanning for predators like cats and snakes. They can also leap up to 16 feet to help escape attacks. They are mostly active during the day and spend a good amount of their time playing with other group members, foraging for food, and grooming themselves.
Are Marmoset Monkeys Good Pets?
Finger monkeys sound like a good idea. After all, they’re smaller than some of the other pets that most humans have and don’t seem like they could cause too much of a fuss.
Unfortunately, caring for a monkey, regardless of its size, is extremely challenging. For starters, it might not even be legal to own a primate depending on where you live. These restrictions vary from state to state. Even if you do live somewhere that allows it, you would have to go through the tedious process of requiring a permit with constant check-ups to ensure you are able to provide them with a suitable habitat.
You Can’t Tame the Wild Out of a Monkey
Let’s say you were able to require the proper permits and provide them with a safe space to live. These monkeys are still wild animals, and you never know how one is going to react. Monkeys, like humans, have vastly different personalities from one another, and you never know how one is going to react to life in captivity. There are times where they could turn aggressive and harm you, children, or other pets in the house. Males in this species are known for their aggression and do things like throwing their feces when aggravated.
Bad Habits Become Personality Traits
Marmoset monkeys are intelligent, and the first few years of their lives are a crucial time for them to pick up both good and bad habits. Once developed, they stay with them for life, so you have to be willing to stick to your commitment to raising them regardless of bad behavior.
Marmosets Need a Lot of Space
If you haven’t given it much thought, you might want to consider how challenging it is to replicate a natural monkey habitat.
Even though they are small, monkeys still require extra-large enclosures with water, trees, vines, and swings for them to jump, play, and climb exactly as they would out in the wild. They prefer locations with direct sunlight and warmth, as well as a hefty diet of veggies, insects, fruits, and trees. If you have a baby marmoset, they must be fed every two hours. This isn’t only a demanding adventure, but an expensive one that most ordinary people do not have the funds for.
Buying a Marmoset Monkey
Along with the hefty bills that come with their lifestyle, this doesn’t even factor in the initial cost of the monkeys themselves. Because they prefer to live in groups, you would be better off buying at least two finger monkeys for healthy companionship. Human companionship is not nearly enough to keep these social butterflies mentally stimulated. A single monkey alone could cost up to $8,000, and that doesn’t include the upfront price of a cage, toys, or plants. Don’t forget about having to travel to a veterinarian who specializes in exotic pets and the high bills that come from wellness check-ups and diseases that transfer between humans and primates.
Is a Marmoset Monkey Right for You?
As discouraging as it is to say it, you shouldn’t own a marmoset monkey as a pet. These wild animals are demanding during all of their waking hours. Unless you don’t work and can dedicate a huge portion of your time to them, then they aren’t going to receive the care they need in captivity. Most people also don’t have the funds to support them for an entire lifetime.
Marmosets are better off in the wild and living with other monkeys where they can swing from vines and play with other monkeys. As an animal lover, it can be tempting to want to bring home these cute creatures. But you have to put their adorable faces in the back of your mind and think about what is truly going to give them a happy life.
Featured Image Credit: nuno_lopes, Pixabay