Wild animals have always fascinated and sometimes terrified humans. Especially when theyʻre babies, wild animals can be impossibly adorable, and itʻs natural to wonder about how fun it would be to keep a wild baby as a pet.
When it comes to our fellow primates, the monkeys, the temptation is often even harder to resist. Cute, clever, and often dressed up in diapers or baby clothes, baby spider monkeys are widely available for sale from exotic pet brokers. But do spider monkeys make good pets? No, spider monkeys, or any other monkey for that matter, don’t make good pets and we do not endorse keeping these animals as pets.
Why Don’t Spider Monkeys Make Good Pets?
The simplest answer to this question is that wild animals like spider monkeys aren’t meant to be kept as pets. They belong in the wild and will never truly be tamed like domestic animals. Here are some more specific reasons why you shouldn’t keep spider monkeys as pets.
1. Pet Spider Monkeys Can Be Dangerous
Baby spider monkeys are cute, but all babies grow up eventually. Just because a baby spider monkey behaves like a tame pet doesn’t mean an adult one will too. Adult spider monkeys will always be wild animals, no matter how they were raised. They are strong, unpredictable, and often aggressive animals with a mouthful of sharp teeth who can do serious damage if they bite you.
Because spider monkeys and humans are closely related, a pet monkey could potentially infect you with several diseases or parasites.
2. Pet Spider Monkeys Are Often Illegal
Depending on where you live, it might not be legal to keep a spider monkey as a pet. Even if it is legal, you may need to get a permit or follow strict regulations as far as housing and caring for the spider monkey.
Wild populations of spider monkeys are threatened for many reasons, including the illegal pet trade. Baby spider monkeys are often captured wild and sold illegally. Even if a pet spider monkey is reportedly captive-bred, there’s no way to know for sure if you’re actually purchasing an illegally caught wild monkey.
3. Pet Spider Monkeys Are Expensive
Just buying a pet spider monkey is likely to cost a minimum of $10,000 and often more. Adult spider monkeys need a specialized enclosure to live safely, which can be expensive to build. These enclosures must often be inspected and approved as part of the permitting process to keep a monkey.
Spider monkeys can live up to 40 years in captivity. If you bring home a 3-month-old spider monkey, you’re looking at up to 40 years of paying to feed and house that animal. In addition, veterinary care for a pet spider monkey can be both tough to find and extremely expensive.
4. Pet Spider Monkeys Are Messy
Here’s the thing about those cute pictures of baby spider monkeys in diapers: adult monkeys won’t wear diapers. Adult spider monkeys can’t be completely toilet-trained and consistently remove their diapers, leaving your home and belongings under constant threat. They’re also likely to develop charming habits like throwing or smearing feces.
As if that wasn’t enough, spider monkeys are incredibly active, curious animals with the maturity level of a human toddler. If given half a chance, they’ll wreak havoc on your house as they climb and explore, leaving a disaster in their wake. They’re also likely to put themselves in danger by chewing electrical wires or getting tangled in window blinds.
5. Pet Spider Monkeys Complicate Your Life
Keeping a pet spider monkey adds many complications to your life that you might not have considered ahead of time. For example, who will watch your pet monkey if you go on vacation?
Unless you give up vacations for up to 40 years, this is something you’ll need to consider.
What if you got your monkey as a single young adult, but now you are older and thinking about starting a family? Just because your spider monkey gets along with you doesn’t mean they will tolerate other people, especially kids, joining the family. They often find this incredibly stressful and react badly.
6. Pet Spider Monkeys Won’t Be Happy Or Healthy
Even if you are the most dedicated spider monkey owner possible, your pet will never be truly happy. The biggest reason for this is that spider monkeys are extremely social and crave interaction with other monkeys. Without this, pet spider monkeys often develop behavioral issues and neurotic tendencies.
Keeping a pet spider monkey healthy is difficult as well, primarily because it’s hard to copy their natural diet correctly. Many pet spider monkeys suffer from health problems, including diabetes, because of issues with their diets.
Even if you find pictures of baby spider monkeys dressed in cute outfits irresistible, think twice before you decide to keep one as a pet. Just because you can make a pet out of a wild animal like a spider monkey, doesn’t mean that you should.
A much better way to channel your baby monkey fever is to look for organizations working to protect spider monkey populations in the wild or spider monkey refuges in their native Central and South America. Or, research groups closer to home who take in former pet spider monkeys, abandoned by people who bought a cute baby without considering the real wild animal they would grow up to become.
Featured Image Credit: AngieToh, Pixabay