Monkey Breeds That People Keep as Pets: A Friendly Guide - Animal Fanatic (2024)

Monkeys have fascinated humans for centuries, and it’s not uncommon for people to be interested in owning these intelligent and social creatures as pets. There are several breeds and species of monkeys that have been domesticated or semi-domesticated, making them popular choices among pet enthusiasts. Despite the controversy surrounding the ownership of pet monkeys, many people still choose to keep them as companions.

Among the various monkey breeds, some of the more popular choices for pets include the capuchin monkey, the squirrel monkey, and the macaque. These monkeys each have their unique characteristics, care requirements, and traits that make them appealing as pets. It’s important, however, for potential owners to carefully consider the ethical, legal, and practical aspects of owning a monkey before bringing one into their home.

As with any pet, owning a pet monkey requires a great deal of commitment, research, and understanding of the species’ unique needs. Although these curious creatures can offer a lifetime of companionship and entertainment, owning a pet monkey is a responsibility that should never be taken lightly.

Popular Monkey Breeds as Pets

When it comes to keeping monkeys as pets, there are a few breeds that stand out due to their friendly nature and relatively manageable size. In this section, we will discuss three popular breeds: Marmoset, Squirrel Monkey, and Capuchin.


Marmosets are small, squirrel-sized monkeys that are native to South America. They have soft fur and expressive faces, making them an appealing choice for many people. Marmosets are social animals and require a lot of interaction to thrive. They are also known for their vocalizations, which can be quite loud.

Common marmoset diets consist of:

  • Insects
  • Fruits
  • Small vertebrates

It’s important to provide a varied diet to ensure they receive the proper nutrition. Due to their small size and delicate nature, marmosets may not be the best choice for families with young children or other pets.

Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel monkeys are medium-sized monkeys that are native to Central and South America. They are known for their energetic personalities and striking appearance, with golden fur and large, expressive eyes.

Squirrel monkey diets include:

  • Insects
  • Fruits
  • Seeds

In captivity, it is important to provide squirrel monkeys with plenty of mental and physical stimulation to keep them healthy and happy. They are also quite social and should be kept with other squirrel monkeys for companionship. Squirrel monkeys can be more challenging to care for than marmosets due to their larger size and high energy levels.


Capuchin monkeys are perhaps the most well-known pet monkeys, often depicted in movies and television shows. They have a distinctive appearance, characterized by their black or brown fur and a “cap” of white or cream fur on their heads. Capuchins are native to Central and South America as well.

Capuchin diets typically consist of:

  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Insects
  • Small vertebrates

Capuchins are highly intelligent and require a lot of mental stimulation to prevent boredom. They are also strong and agile, which makes providing a suitable living environment a challenge. While capuchins have been popularized as pets, it is essential to carefully consider the specialized care, space, and socialization they need before making a commitment.

In summary, marmosets, squirrel monkeys, and capuchins are three popular breeds of monkeys kept as pets. Each has its own unique qualities and challenges that come with their care. It is crucial to extensively research and consider the needs of these animals before deciding to make one a part of your family.

Understanding Monkey Care and Diet

Nutritional Needs

Caring for a pet monkey requires understanding their complex dietary needs. A well-balanced diet is essential for their health and well-being. Monkeys are predominantly frugivorous, meaning they mainly eat fruits, but their diet also consists of various other foods such as seeds, nuts, insects, and small animals.

It is important to provide a wide variety of foods to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients. Fruits like apples, bananas, and berries make up a significant portion of their diet. However, it is crucial to balance fruit intake with other food sources. Insects such as crickets and mealworms can be excellent sources of protein. Monkeys also need a source of carbohydrates, such as whole grains, rice, or potatoes. To maintain their bone health and muscle function, consider supplementing their diet with calcium and vitamin D31.

Environmental Enrichment

Apart from meeting their nutritional needs, maintaining an appropriate habitat is crucial for their overall well-being. Pet monkeys require enclosures that provide ample space and opportunities for physical and mental stimulation. A properly designed enclosure should be large enough to allow the monkey to climb, swing, and explore.

Key components of a monkey enclosure:

  • Spacious, multi-level design
  • Multiple branches, ropes, and platforms for climbing
  • Areas of shade and protection from the elements
  • Access to clean water and UV lighting

In addition to a well-designed enclosure, providing enrichment activities will keep your pet monkey happy and engaged. These activities could include puzzle toys, foraging opportunities, and socializing with other monkeys or humans.

In conclusion, meeting the nutritional and environmental needs of a pet monkey is crucial for their health and happiness. By providing a varied diet and a stimulating environment, you can ensure your pet monkey thrives in your care.

Factors to Consider Before Keeping a Monkey

Space Requirements

Before considering keeping a monkey as a pet, it’s essential to evaluate the space available in your home. Monkeys are highly active and social animals, requiring plenty of room to play, explore, and bond with their family. A typical captive environment should include both indoor and outdoor spaces, with safe climbing structures, enrichment toys, and opportunities for exercise. Keep in mind that monkeys can also be destructive, so it’s important to provide a secure and monkey-proof living area.

Legal Considerations

Owning a pet monkey is not legal in all areas. Laws and regulations differ among countries, states, and even cities. It’s crucial to research and understand the legal requirements in your area before making a decision. Some places may require a special permit or license. In other areas, owning a monkey as a pet might be strictly prohibited. Remember, violating the local laws could result in fines, or even your monkey being confiscated.

Long-Term Commitment

Monkeys are long-lived animals with lifespans ranging from 20 to 40 years in the case of macaques. This means owning a monkey is a long-term commitment that goes beyond the initial cost of purchase and setup. Ongoing expenses include food, veterinary care, and enrichment items, which can vary based on the size and species of the monkey. It’s crucial to evaluate your lifestyle: Are you prepared to accommodate the needs and demands of a pet monkey for several decades?

Additionally, monkeys can be unpredictable and possess complex emotions, which might pose risks to owners and their families. It’s essential to learn about monkey behavior and care to minimize these risks and ensure a harmonious relationship.

In conclusion, owning a monkey as a pet is a big decision that requires careful consideration of space requirements, legal aspects, and the long-term commitment involved. Engaging in thorough research and understanding all the implications of pet monkey ownership will help you make an informed and responsible decision.

Behavioral and Social Aspects of Pet Monkeys

Intelligence and Training

Pet monkeys are known for their intelligence and can exhibit a range of behaviors. They can be trained to perform various tasks, such as fetching objects or opening containers. However, training a monkey can be quite challenging, as they are naturally curious and mischievous creatures. It’s essential to have patience and consistency when working with them.

When it comes to training, positive reinforcement is key. Providing them with praise, food, or attention when they perform a desired behavior can make the process more effective. Keep in mind that monkeys can become territorial, so it’s important to establish boundaries and rules to ensure a peaceful coexistence.

Monkey Social Needs

Monkeys are social animals that thrive in groups and require constant interaction. As pets, they need companionship from their owners or other monkeys. It’s crucial to spend time with your pet monkey daily, engaging in activities such as play, grooming, and enrichment. Failure to provide adequate socialization can result in behavioral problems and even affect the monkey’s health.

While it’s essential to fulfill their social needs, it’s also critical to remember that pet monkeys are not human. Respecting their natural instincts and providing opportunities to interact with their own kind can significantly enhance their quality of life. Considering the complex social structure and grooming behaviors common among primates, maintaining a proper environment for your pet monkey might require a balance between human and monkey interactions.

In summary, owning a pet monkey can be a rewarding experience, but it comes with a range of challenges that must be addressed. By understanding their intelligence, training needs, and social requirements, one can foster a positive and healthy relationship with their pet monkey.

Health and Safety Concerns

Zoonotic Diseases

Keeping monkeys as pets has some health and safety concerns, one of which is the risk of zoonotic diseases. These diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans, and some common examples include tuberculosis, hepatitis, and herpes B virus. It is important to ensure that proper veterinary care is available to reduce the chances of disease transmission.

Preventing zoonotic diseases:

  • Regular veterinary check-ups for your pet monkey
  • Maintain a clean environment for the animal
  • Practice good personal hygiene when handling your pet

Safe Handling and Care

To ensure the safety of both the pet monkeys and their owners, it is important to follow proper handling and care guidelines. Monkeys can become aggressive, especially when they feel threatened or when their territory is invaded.

Safe handling tips:

  1. Approach monkeys slowly and calmly
  2. Avoid direct eye contact, as this can be seen as a threat
  3. Use positive reinforcement to train your monkey

Monkeys require a lot of attention, and their natural curiosity can lead them into trouble. It is vital to provide them with a safe, stimulating, and carefully-monitored environment. To prevent accidents and keep your pet monkey safe:

  • Regularly inspect their enclosure for any hazards
  • Provide appropriate toys and enrichment activities
  • Keep them away from electrical wiring and other potential dangers

In addition to safety, proper care also involves meeting the monkey’s specific dietary and health needs. Monkeys have a long lifespan and require consistent veterinary care throughout their lives. Since monkeys wear diapers throughout their life, owners must be knowledgeable about proper diaper care and change them frequently.

By being mindful of these health and safety concerns, it is possible to provide a safe and comfortable environment for your pet monkey while minimizing potential risks.

  1. Calcium and vitamin D3 supplementation is essential for monkeys, especially those not exposed to adequate sunlight or UV lighting, as both play a crucial role in bone health. Consult a veterinarian for specific recommendations on supplementation for your pet monkey.

Monkey Breeds That People Keep as Pets: A Friendly Guide - Animal Fanatic (2024)
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