Your First Monkey: Ideal Pet Primates For Beginners (2024)

Monkeys have long captured the fascination of humans with their intelligence, agility, and adorable appearances. As a result, many people dream of having a pet monkey. However, owning a monkey is a significant responsibility that requires careful consideration and preparation.

In this blog, we will explore various aspects of keeping a pet monkey, including the ideal primate breeds for beginners, the costs involved, the legalities, and the challenges of caring for these fascinating creatures.

Are Monkeys Good Pets?

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Before delving into specific monkey breeds and considerations, it’s essential to determine whether monkeys make good pets at all. While they may seem adorable and entertaining, monkeys are not for everyone. Their complex social and emotional needs, physical requirements, and legal restrictions can pose significant challenges for aspiring monkey owners.

Some reasons why monkeys may not be the ideal pets include:

Long Lifespan

Many monkey species have relatively long lifespans, often reaching several decades. Committing to care for a monkey is a lifelong commitment.

Social Needs

Monkeys are highly social animals, and isolation can lead to stress and behavioral issues.

Space and Enrichment

Monkeys require spacious enclosures and mentally stimulating environments to thrive.

Aggression and Behavior

Some monkeys can display aggressive behaviors, especially as they mature.

Health Risks

Monkeys can carry zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

Legal Restrictions

The legality of owning pet monkeys varies widely based on location.

Key Considerations Before Getting a Pet Monkey

If you’ve decided that a pet monkey is the right choice for you, there are several crucial considerations you must address before bringing one into your home. These considerations include:


Research local and national laws regarding pet monkey ownership. Some areas prohibit it outright, while others may require permits or have specific restrictions.

Species Selection

Different monkey breeds have varying care needs, temperaments, and sizes. Choose a species that aligns with your lifestyle and capabilities.

Habitat Preparation

Create an appropriate enclosure that mimics the monkey’s natural habitat, including space for climbing, playing, and resting.


Monkeys need social interaction and may require the company of other monkeys or human caregivers if kept individually.

Veterinary Care

Find a veterinarian experienced in primate care to ensure your monkey’s health and well-being.

Financial Commitment

Owning a monkey can be expensive, considering initial costs, food, veterinary care, and other ongoing expenses.

The Cost of Owning a Pet Monkey

The cost of acquiring a pet monkey can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the species, age, breeder, and location. Generally, the initial cost of a monkey can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

The expenses to consider when budgeting for a pet monkey include:

Purchase Price

As mentioned, the cost of acquiring a monkey varies based on breed and availability.

Habitat Setup

Creating a suitable enclosure for your monkey can involve considerable costs for materials and construction.

Food and Nutrition

Monkeys require a diverse and nutritious diet, which can be expensive, especially for certain species with specific dietary needs.

Veterinary Care

Regular check-ups and potential medical expenses are necessary to keep your monkey healthy.

Enrichment and Toys

Monkeys need mental stimulation and enrichment, which may involve buying toys and accessories.

Legal Permits

Some areas require permits to own a monkey, and these can come with additional fees.

Popular Monkey Breeds For Pets

When it comes to choosing a monkey breed for a pet, it’s crucial to select one that matches your lifestyle, space, and ability to care for their specific needs. Here are nine monkey breeds that are popular choices as pets:

Capuchin Monkeys

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Intelligent and playful, capuchins require mental stimulation and plenty of social interaction.


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Small and adorable, marmosets are energetic and social animals that do well in groups.

Squirrel Monkeys

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These social and curious monkeys are known for their friendly nature and adaptability.


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Tamarins are small and active monkeys that form strong bonds with their owners.

Spider Monkeys

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Known for their long limbs and prehensile tails, spider monkeys require ample space for climbing.

Saki Monkeys

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Saki monkeys are less common but make affectionate and engaging pets.


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Guenons come in various species, each with its distinct characteristics and care requirements.


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Highly intelligent and emotionally complex, chimpanzees are not recommended for novice owners due to their specialized needs.


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Gibbons are graceful and acrobatic monkeys that need significant space for movement.

Making the Right Decision For Monkey Breeds as a Pet?

Choosing whether to keep a monkey as a pet is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly. While monkeys can form strong bonds with their human caregivers and provide companionship, they also present many challenges. It’s crucial to ask yourself the following questions before making a decision:

Am I Prepared for a Lifelong Commitment?

As mentioned earlier, monkeys have long lifespans, and owning one is a lifelong commitment.

Do I Have the Time and Energy?

Monkeys require significant time and effort for proper care and social interaction.

Can I Meet the Financial Demands?

Keeping a monkey can be expensive, so assess your financial capability.

Am I Willing to Learn?

Educate yourself about the species you’re interested in to ensure you can meet its unique needs.

Do I Have the Space?

Many monkey species need ample space for exercise and play.

Is There Adequate Support?

Ensure you have access to a qualified veterinarian and support network experienced in primate care.

A Quick Recap of 9 Monkey Breeds That People Keep as Pets

To summarize the nine popular monkey breeds kept as pets:

Capuchin Monkeys

Intelligent and playful, best suited for owners with ample time and dedication.


Energetic and social, do well in groups and require a lot of social interaction.

Squirrel Monkeys

Friendly and adaptable, form strong bonds with their caregivers.


Small and active, form close connections with their owners.

Spider Monkeys

Need ample space for climbing and enjoy complex environments.

Saki Monkeys

Less common but affectionate and engaging.


Come in various species, each with unique characteristics and needs.


Highly intelligent and emotionally complex, require specialized care.


Graceful and acrobatic, need significant space for movement.

10 Reasons Why Monkeys Don’t Make Good Pets

While monkeys can be fascinating and endearing creatures, there are several compelling reasons why they may not be the best pets for most people:

Complex Care Requirements

Monkeys have intricate physical, emotional, and social needs that can be challenging to meet.

Aggressive Behavior

Some monkeys can exhibit aggressive tendencies, especially when they reach maturity.

Noise and Mess

Monkeys can be noisy and create messy environments, requiring constant cleaning and maintenance.

Health Risks

Monkeys can carry zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

Social Isolation

Keeping a monkey alone can lead to stress and behavioral problems.

Legal Restrictions

Pet monkey ownership is often regulated or prohibited in many areas.

Lifespan Commitment

Owning a monkey can span several decades, requiring lifelong dedication.

Space Requirements

Monkeys need spacious enclosures for proper exercise and enrichment.

Bonding Challenges

Establishing a strong bond with a monkey may not always be possible.

Ethical Concerns

The exotic pet trade and captivity raise ethical questions about keeping monkeys as pets.

Contributing to Primate Conservation

If owning a monkey is not feasible or suitable for you, there are alternative ways you can contribute to primate conservation and welfare:

Support Sanctuaries

Consider donating to or volunteering at reputable primate sanctuaries that rescue and care for captive primates.

Raise Awareness

Educate others about the challenges of keeping monkeys as pets and promote responsible pet ownership.

Support Conservation Organizations

Contribute to organizations working towards protecting primate habitats and promoting conservation efforts.

Avoid Purchasing Exotic Pets

Refrain from purchasing monkeys or other exotic pets, as it encourages the exotic pet trade.

Advocate for Legislation

Advocate for stricter laws and regulations regarding the ownership and trade of exotic animals.

The 7 Types of Monkeys That Are Kept as Pets

Understanding the different types of monkeys that people keep as pets can help you make an informed decision about the right species for you. Here are seven common types:

New World Monkeys

This group includes capuchins, marmosets, squirrel monkeys, and tamarins, known for their small size and playful nature.

Old World Monkeys

Gibbons and guenons are examples of Old World monkeys, generally larger and more complex to care for.

Spider Monkeys

These monkeys have a unique appearance with long limbs and a prehensile tail, requiring plenty of space to climb.

Saki Monkeys

Saki monkeys are lesser-known but make affectionate companions with proper care.


Highly intelligent and emotionally complex, chimpanzees are challenging to care for and usually not recommended as pets.

Vervet Monkeys

Known for their colorful fur, vervet monkeys can be social and interactive pets when provided with appropriate care.

Finger Monkeys (Pygmy Marmosets)

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Also known as pocket monkeys, they are the tiniest primates but have unique care needs.

What Are Finger Monkeys?

Finger monkeys, also called pygmy marmosets, are the smallest monkeys in the world. They are native to the rainforests of South America and are highly social animals, living in family groups. Some key points about finger monkeys include:


Adults typically weigh between 100 to 150 grams and have a body length of about 5 inches, excluding their tail.


Their diet consists mainly of tree sap, insects, fruits, and nectar.
Social Behavior: Finger monkeys are very social and need the company of other marmosets to thrive.

Legal Considerations

Due to their small size, finger monkeys may be perceived as more manageable, but they still require specific care and are subject to legal regulations.

Do Finger Monkeys Make Good Pets?

While finger monkeys are adorable and captivating, their care can be challenging for the average person. Here are some factors to consider:

Social Needs

Finger monkeys require the companionship of other marmosets, making them unsuitable as solitary pets.

Specialized Diet

Their diet is diverse and requires careful attention to meet their nutritional needs.

Complex Enclosure

Finger monkeys need a well-structured enclosure with ample space and opportunities for climbing.

High Energy

They are active and curious, needing plenty of mental and physical stimulation.

Legal Restrictions

Finger monkeys may have the same legal restrictions as other primate species.

Finding the Right Monkey Breed for You

If you’re determined to bring home a pet monkey, consider the following factors when selecting the breed:

Species Requirements

Different species have varying needs and temperaments, so choose one that fits your lifestyle.

Space Availability

Ensure you have enough space to provide an appropriate enclosure and environment for the monkey.

Time Commitment

Monkeys demand a considerable time investment for their care and social interaction.

Financial Capacity

Be prepared for the significant costs associated with monkey ownership.


Check your local laws and regulations to ensure that owning the chosen breed is legal in your area.

The Discomforts of Keeping a Pet Monkey

It’s essential to be aware of the discomforts and difficulties that may arise from owning a pet monkey:

Noise and Mess

Monkeys can be noisy and create a messy living environment.

Training Difficulties

Some monkeys may be challenging to train and may not fully adapt to human rules.

Aggression Concerns

As monkeys mature, they may exhibit aggressive behaviors.

Health Risks

Monkeys can carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

Social Isolation

Keeping a monkey alone can lead to stress and behavioral issues.

How To Keep Your Pet Monkey Busy?

Keeping a pet monkey mentally and physically engaged is crucial for their well-being. Some ways to keep them busy include:

Enrichment Toys

Provide toys that stimulate their natural behaviors, such as puzzle feeders and climbing structures.

Training and Interaction

Regular training and interaction with their human caregivers can be mentally enriching.

Foraging Activities

Create foraging opportunities to encourage natural behaviors and mental engagement.

Social Interaction

If your monkey species is social, ensure they have ample opportunities to interact with other monkeys or humans.

Places Where Pet Monkeys Are Legal

The legality of keeping pet monkeys varies significantly depending on your location. Some countries and states have strict regulations or outright bans on pet monkey ownership, while others may have specific permit requirements or restrictions. Always check local laws and regulations before considering a pet monkey.

How To Care for a Pet Monkey?

Proper care for a pet monkey requires a comprehensive understanding of their needs. Some general care guidelines include:


Offer a balanced and varied diet tailored to the monkey’s specific species.


Provide a spacious and enriched enclosure that allows for climbing, playing, and resting.
Social Interaction: If the species is social, ensure they have appropriate companionship, whether with other monkeys or human caregivers.

Veterinary Care

Regular check-ups with a qualified primate veterinarian are essential for monitoring their health.

Environmental Enrichment

Offer mental and physical stimulation through toys, activities, and training.

Legal Compliance

Comply with all relevant laws and regulations concerning pet monkey ownership in your area.


1: Can I keep a monkey as a pet in my city?

Pet monkey ownership is subject to local laws and regulations, and it can vary significantly depending on your city or country. Always check with local authorities to determine the legality of keeping a pet monkey in your area.

2: Are monkeys dangerous as pets?

Some monkey species can be dangerous due to their strength and unpredictable behavior, especially as they mature. Additionally, monkeys may carry zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

3: How much does it cost to care for a pet monkey annually?

The cost of caring for a pet monkey can vary based on the species and their specific needs. On average, annual expenses for food, veterinary care, and enrichment can range from a few thousand to several thousand dollars.

4: Can I train a pet monkey to behave like a human child?

While monkeys can be trained to perform specific tasks and behaviors, it is essential to remember that they are still wild animals with distinct natural instincts and needs. Trying to make them behave like human children can lead to behavioral and psychological issues.

5: What should I do if I can no longer care for my pet monkey?

If you find yourself unable to care for your pet monkey, contact reputable primate sanctuaries or rescue organizations. Surrendering the monkey to a qualified facility ensures they receive proper care and attention.

6: Are finger monkeys endangered?

Yes, finger monkeys, also known as pygmy marmosets, are classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, habitat destruction and the illegal pet trade are significant threats to their populations.

7: Can I have a pet monkey if I have other pets at home?

It depends on the species and the temperament of your other pets. Some monkeys may not get along well with other animals and could potentially pose a risk to them. Always introduce new animals cautiously and under close supervision.


While the idea of having a pet monkey might be enticing, it’s essential to approach this decision with caution and responsibility. Monkeys are not domesticated animals, and their complex needs can be challenging to meet in a home environment. Before bringing a monkey into your life, carefully consider the breed, your living situation, the associated costs, and the long-term commitment required.

Additionally, exploring alternative ways to support and help monkeys, such as through conservation efforts, can contribute positively to their welfare. Ultimately, it is crucial to prioritize the well-being of these amazing creatures and make informed decisions that ensure their happiness and preservation.

Your First Monkey: Ideal Pet Primates For Beginners (2024)
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