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Do Monkeys Make Good Pets? (Ethics, Care, & What to Know)

macaque monkey sitting on ledge

There is definitely some truth to the statement that humans always want what they can’t have. Technically speaking, it isn’t impossible for you to have a pet monkey. However, we can’t endorse keeping exotic animals as pets unless there are extenuating circumstances. We get it — there is just something that draws you to sweet, cuddly monkey babies that make you want to bring one home. Unfortunately, monkeys do not make good pets, and there are some very good reasons why.

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The Difficulties Involved with Raising a Pet Monkey

squirrel monkey
Image Credit: cegoh, Pixabay

Movies and television have given you the false impression that owning a pet monkey is all fun and games. Sure, you might have some good times, but there is a lot of responsibilities and challenges that you’ll have to face as well. Caring for monkeys is not anything at all like caring for most other types of pets. They do not mature the same as human children, either. With a lifespan of anywhere from 20 to 40 years, it’s like being stuck with a permanent toddler who doesn’t adapt well to new situations. On top of that, finding ways to travel with them, introduce them to new people or children, and keeping them up on their demands for social interaction is a full-time job in itself. Let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest challenges that come with raising a pet monkey.

Is Owning a Monkey Legal?

Capuchin Monkey front view
Image Credit: Michelleraponi, Pixabay

The legality of owning a primate changes depending on where you live. Some states simply require permits, while others are completely illegal. Even if you were lucky enough to obtain a permit, it’s possible you’d have to deal with regular home inspections to ensure you are providing them with appropriate care. On top of that, you’d have to purchase additional liability coverage. Some insurance companies might even cancel your insurance entirely because there is a risk that the monkey bites someone or causes property damage.

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What are the Medical Issues Associated with Pet Monkeys?

Diseases are easily spread between monkeys and humans, and some zoonotic diseases are very serious. Depending on where you reside, there might not be a veterinarian within a hundred miles who is able or willing to treat a monkey.

Keeping captive monkeys healthy is a huge challenge. They have specialized diets that are time-consuming and expensive to prepare. Monkeys eat things that are strictly found in nature like nuts, seeds, and fruits. There are a few species that also eat small animals like spiders, lizards, and insects. Some monkeys end up developing diabetes because of the poor diets that their owners feed them.

Monkey Behavioral Issues

One of the biggest complaints from people with pet monkeys is the wide range of behavioral problems. Baby monkeys start out as sweet, dependent creatures, but all of that changes once they start to age. Monkeys are wild animals, and their natures aren’t going to change just because they live in a house with you. Because they are such social animals, not enough time with other people, monkeys, or animals creates a slew of behavioral problems.

Pet monkeys are known to bite, and with their 32 sharp teeth, it isn’t going to be something you can brush off. Some monkeys are gentle, but more often than not, they become aggressive towards anyone that they are nearest to. This is especially true after puberty. Monkeys are also curious and are going to rifle through anything they can get their hands on. I don’t know about you, but we certainly don’t want to be picking up after a monkey for the next 40 years.

Housing a Monkey

monkey in a cage
Image Credit: ignartonosbg, Pixabay

Monkeys come in all sizes, but that doesn’t change the vast amount of space that they need. On top of having large and secure enclosures, monkeys must be able to spend a lot of time outdoors. They must have their toys changed out constantly to keep their brains stimulated and stick to an exercise routine, so they don’t develop health issues.

Unfortunately, most monkeys cannot be toilet trained. Some young monkeys wear diapers, but that ability is usually lost as they mature since they just pull it off. Lots of pet monkeys resort to flinging their feces and urine when bored.

The Cost of Owning a Pet Monkey

Monkeys aren’t like cats and dogs where you can run to a local shelter and adopt one for a few hundred bucks. Monkeys are exotic animals, and it is reflected in the cost. Smaller monkey species, like capuchin, could cost around $7,000, while larger species, like chimpanzees, cost upwards of $70,000. This price doesn’t even begin to factor in the lifetime costs of food, water, diapers, and vet bills.

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Conclusion

The idea of keeping a pet monkey is far more enticing than the reality of it. There are only a few documented pet monkey cases where pet monkeys were well-trained and lived their entire lives with humans without causing harm to others. In most cases, pet monkeys are a risk to humans and to themselves.

Monkeys are a full-time commitment. They can’t be left alone, they live up to 40 years old, and they will never mature like humans do. Monkeys are animals that require constant attention and care for the entire span of their lives. With that said, all monkeys are different, and you might be lucky enough to buy one that is sweet and loving, but even that isn’t a guarantee that they will never act out or resort to aggression.

It’s okay to love all animals and want to keep them as pets, but monkeys will never be truly domesticated. It is best if they live out their lives where they belong in places like savannahs, rainforests, and mountainous terrains. Instead of buying a pet monkey and committing to something you have no idea you’ll actually enjoy, visit primate sanctuaries and appreciate them from a distance. After all, one of the things that probably drew you to them in the first place was watching them roam in the wild and live their unique, wild lives that we aren’t able to provide them.


Featured Image Credit: Rajesh Balouria, Pixabay

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