Monkeys As Pets – Everything You Need To Know

Monkeys As Pets: Everything You Need To Know

Monkeys are cute, but can you keep them as pets?

You can – here’s everything you need to know.

Who hasn’t looked at a monkey in the wild or on a nature documentary and thought, “I want a pet monkey!” On the flipside, you’ve probably also heard stories about monkeys not being suitable pets.


Monkey Facts Sheet

Scientific nameCercopithecidae (Old World monkeys); Platyrrhini (New World monkeys)
Other namesPrimates
Where are monkeys fromThere are two main categories of monkeys: New World and Old World. New World monkeys are located in the Americas. Old World monkeys are found in Africa and Asia
Lifespan10 to 60 years, depending on the species.
DietOmnivores. They eat meat and plant matter
Color variationsMacaque – brown or black; capuchin – pale to dark brown or black; marmoset – black, silver, brown, or bright orange; squirrel monkey – gray or olive green; guenon – gray, brown, red, yellow, or green
SizeMonkeys vary quite dramatically in size. The smallest monkey is the pygmy marmoset that weighs four ounces and is five inches tall, as Live Science reports. The largest monkey is the mandrill that weighs 77 pounds and is three feet tall.
Monkey legal statesNorth Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Montana, Washington state
Monkey priceMonkeys cost $1,000 or more.

Can you have a pet monkey?

This really depends on several factors, such as if it’s legal to do so in your state and if you meet all the requirements to be an amazing monkey owner. Monkeys can live for many years and they’re a huge responsibility.

Monkeys, known as primates, are separated into two categories: Old World monkeys that come from Asia and Africa, and New World monkeys that come from the Americas.

Monkeys come in various sizes, from ones that are a few inches tall to others that are three feet tall.

They also come in different color variations, such as brown, black, and even bright orange such as in the case of the marmoset monkey.

The Main Types Of Monkeys You Can Own As Pets

There’s not just one kind of pet monkey. Here’s a rundown of the most popular types so that you can keep a monkey as a pet that’s appropriate and suitable for you.


Chimpanzee Posing

This is the most popular one that you usually hear of when people say that they have a pet monkey.

A chimpanzee is actually the largest primate that’s kept as a pet because it’s actually an ape.

It’s not a monkey!

When you hear of the dangers of keeping monkeys as pets, such as because they can be aggressive, those ring true for the chimpanzee as there have been reports of chimps attacking their owners, as The Spruce Pets reports.

They’re huge and very strong, and can live up to 60 years!


Macaque Eating

These are small primates that can be a bit challenging.

They need to be kept in an indoor enclosure to prevent them from getting out and getting into dangerous situations, just like all primates.

They require a lot of space despite the fact that their body length is between 16cm and 33cm.


Capuchin on Branch

This is a small, mischievous primate that weighs between three and nine pounds. It’s smart and territorial.

Capuchins require a very specialized diet in order to thrive, which can be difficult to have to ensure.

They can become quite aggressive when they reach sexual maturity, which occurs around the age of five years, as NBC News reports.


Monkey On Branch

These are another type of primate that’s extremely small, ranging from 100g to 380g in weight!

They don’t really like to be handled because they’re very active and always on the move.

The common marmoset is sometimes referred to as cotton-eared marmoset because it has tufts on its ears that appear when the marmoset ages.

Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel Monkey

These get their name because they’re so active and know how to use their tails to hang on tree branches.

Like other types of primates kept in captivity, they will need lots of attention and stimulation, so you have to commit to being present for them every day.

A squirrel monkey’s weight ranges from 270g to 780g.


Guenon Posing

These are also small, weighing approximately 10 pounds. There are lots of different species of guenon, such as the vervet and green monkey.

They need to be in large groups and don’t want to be on their own so keeping just one guenon is not a good idea.

You’ll need to purchase more than one so that they don’t get lonely.

The bottom line: Monkeys such as capuchins, squirrel monkeys, and macaques are the best types of monkeys to keep as pets.

These will have similar requirements when it comes to their care, as WikiHow reports.

Apes, such as gibbons, orangutans, and chimpanzees are not monkeys and therefore should not be kept as pets because they can become dangerous to humans and will not be able to be kept in captivity.

Monkey Care

Now that we’ve looked at some of the different monkey species and which ones are suitable for owning, there are some important things to consider when it comes to looking after your pet monkey.

Monkey Food Or Diet

Feeding Monkeys

Monkeys are omnivores, and in the wild they thrive on both a meat and plant-based diet.

They like to eat seeds, fruits, nuts, bird’s eggs, small lizards, spiders, and insects.

However, that’s not enough to give your monkey. Keeping a monkey as a pet requires you to feed it monkey biscuits every day.

These biscuits contain minerals and nutrients to meet all your monkey’s heath needs.

With those as their dietary staple, you can then add some fruit or steamed veggies to their diet, depending on if they like it or not.

Hard-boiled eggs, rice, nuts, mealworms, cooked chicken, and grasshoppers are other additions to their diet.

If you’re keeping your monkey indoors, you will probably need to give it extra vitamins, in the form of supplements.

For example, it might require Vitamin D because it doesn’t get enough sun.

Food aside, always ensure that your monkeys have fresh water to drink.

Some monkeys want to drink from small water bottles while others prefer to have water in a bowl.

It’s good to provide both options so that they can choose the one they like.


Monkeys tend to mate throughout the year, but when food is most available there tends to be an increase in mating.

Interestingly, female monkeys won’t mate if there is a lack of food in the region because it isn’t favorable for becoming pregnant.

However, even when there is enough food and conditions are good, a female monkey will give birth only once every two years.

A monkey’s gestation period is between four and six months. Most monkeys give birth to just one infant. However, marmosets usually give birth to twins.

While Old World monkeys tend to mate with more than one partner, New World monkeys are monogamous.

Monkeys that live in trees will build nests for the female monkey to give birth in, but monkeys that live on the ground will give birth on the ground.

Common Diseases Of Monkeys

Monkey Yelling

Monkeys can get diseases such as hepatitis A. They are also susceptible to monkeypox, which is a zoonotic disease that shows up as a rash and pustules.

Zoonotic means that it can be transmitted to humans. Monkeys can also carry the Herpes B virus which can be transmitted through saliva, as ABC News reports.

Getting a bite from a monkey can also lead to wound infections that can be serious and rabies.

How To Take Care Of Monkeys

Your pet monkey will have to be in an enclosure at all times. You can purchase a monkey cage or build one yourself, but make sure that it’s very large.

Your monkey is active and will want to run around a lot. Squirrel monkeys will want to be able to jump and hang by their tails from branches.

If your monkey’s cage or enclosure isn’t large enough, it will become frustrated and this could cause it to become aggressive.

Here are other important tips to follow when it comes to monkey enclosures:

  • Whether you build your own monkey cage or purchase one, make sure it has wooden or steel poles that are secure, as well as have chain-link fencing. Check that the bars of the cage aren’t large enough for your monkey to fit through, as this could cause it to become injured or escape.
  • Make the cage high so that the monkey will be able to climb. It should have a minimum height of six feet if your monkey is a macaque, capuchin, or marmoset, because even small species of monkeys need the extra height. If you have a squirrel monkey, make the minimum height five feet.
  • Fill the cage with platforms, hanging ropes, and ramps to encourage climbing so that the monkey can remain active and stimulated. Monkeys can become bored, and this can cause them to become agitated, so it’s best to be avoided.
  • It’s essential to have an indoor and outdoor cage, so that your monkey can get the best of both worlds considering it will have to be in a cage all the time.
  • Make sure there’s enough shade in the summer for the monkey’s outdoor cage, and so that it will be protected against rain and wind. A roof is essential, especially since you don’t want your monkey to climb out of its cage or enclosure.
  • Make the cage feel as natural as possible, such as with the use of plants. Just make sure that you don’t choose plants that are toxic to monkeys. Great non-toxic plant choices include willows, palm trees, pine, silverberry, and bamboo.
  • Have cleaning supplies ready because you’ll need to clean the monkey’s cage on a daily basis. This is because monkeys can be quite messy and smelly, and part of the reason for this is that they aren’t easy to house-train. Monkeys will leave their waste products lying around. So, make sure you always clean your monkey’s cage at least once a day to maintain hygienic conditions for your pet.
  • There is the option to put diapers on your monkey when it’s young, and that can be an option, but this won’t be possible to do when the monkey grows older. Sometimes the appeal of owning exotic pets is that they are not as high-maintenance as regular pets like cats and dogs. However, this is not the case with pet monkeys. They need lots of stimulation and playtime on a daily basis. Here are some things you can do with your monkey to keep it entertained and happy.
  • Hide some of its food in containers that have small holes large enough for the monkey to stick its hand inside. This will keep the monkey entertained as it tries to figure out how to open the container.
  • Make sure your monkey has lots of toys, such as teddy bears, balls, and more. Play with your monkey with these toys for a few hours every day as this will help you to bond. When your monkey starts to bond with you, it will become trustful of you and might even give you hugs.
  • Owning more than one monkey can help you if you don’t have hours to spend with your monkey every day as they will be able to play together.
  • Be very careful of letting other people play with your monkey. Unless they know the person well and feel trustful of them, playtime can easily become dangerous. As WikiHow reports, if your monkey is aggressive with someone, Animal Control will take it away and test it for rabies. Even scarier than that is that exotic animals can be confiscated and euthanized because there’s no law that determines a quarantine period for exotic animals. So be very careful. Some monkey owners allow their monkeys to roam around the house every now and then to give them a chance to exercise and have some time out of their cages. If you’re keeping your monkey indoors, this is important – even if you just let your monkey roam around one large room. However, make sure you monkey-proof your house to prevent problems or accidents. Here’s how to do it.
  • Hide all electrical cords away as monkeys are curious and will want to pull and touch things that could be dangerous for them.
  • Never let your monkey roam around in the kitchen as this is one of the most dangerous rooms in the home, filled with many things that can harm it, such as hot stoves.
  • Monkeys can be playful and aggressive, so make sure you remove anything that they can knock over, such as lamps, ornaments, and plants.
  • Always watch your monkey as they can easily escape – bear in mind that monkeys are smart enough to open windows and even turn doorknobs! Put locks on the windows and lock all doors in the room that you’re allowing them to enter to ensure you keep them safe and safeguard your possessions too.
  • Another reason to watch your monkey and not leave it unattended is that sometimes monkeys throw their feces around and urinate on possessions. Although it was thought that they throw their feces around when threatened, some monkeys also do this when bored!

Are Male Or Female Monkeys Better To Own?

Male And Female Chimp Kissing

When it comes to purchasing a monkey, you shouldn’t worry too much about the monkey being male or female.

One of the main differences between them is that male monkeys tend to be a bit larger than female monkeys.

For example, male squirrel monkeys can be 20 to 30 percent larger than females.

However, if you want to own two male monkeys, make sure they’re related.

Research published by the Animal Welfare Institute that was about squirrel monkeys found that two adult males can get along but they should be related to reduce aggression.

Can I Have A Monkey?

You might be wondering, “Is it legal to have a monkey?”

Currently, many U.S. states regard it as illegal to have a monkey as a pet. It’s also illegal to bring a monkey into the U.S.

That said, there are some states that permit you to own monkeys, and these are North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Montana, Washington state. These states don’t have restrictions when it comes to keeping monkeys as pets.

Then, there are states that have conditions when it comes to keeping primates as pets.

Arizona, Indiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi make it illegal for people to own apes but they can own monkeys.

In Mississippi, for instance, you can own monkeys but no baboons or macaques.

Then, there are states that completely ban the ownership of monkeys.

These states are Wyoming, Vermont, Utah, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Louisiana, Kentucky, Georgia, Connecticut, Colorado, and California.

How To Get A Monkey

Man Holding Monkey On Leash

If your state allows you to own a monkey, you might be wondering where to get one.

There are breeders of marmoset and spider monkeys, as well as those that offer a variety of monkeys for sale..

Animals Similar To Monkeys

Primates are a group of mammals that include monkeys.

In this group you’ll find some animals that are quite similar to monkeys. Here are three to consider.


Although most of the attention we pay to primates goes to monkeys, lemurs are remarkable animals that are highly intelligent.

They often succeed at tasks that are too difficult for monkeys and apes.

However, although they have a stronger sense of smell than monkeys, their vision is not as powerful.


These fascinating creatures can be found in woodland and tropical forests in India, southeast Asia, and Sri Lanka.

The term “Loris locomotion” refers to their slow climbing.

They have large eyes that are encircled with dark patches. Instead of hanging on branches by their tails, they use their feet.


These small primates fit in between lemurs and monkeys when it comes to their size.

They’re between 3.5 and six inches long, but their tail can be twice that length.

They share qualities of the lemur, such as by how they’re nocturnal, but they’re a lot like monkeys when it comes to their appearances.

They have furry noses and a similar face structure.

Fascinating Facts About Monkeys

Capuchins Are Extremely Intelligent

Using Stone To Open Food

These monkeys are said to be the most intelligent out of all New World monkeys.

An interesting thing they can do is crack open nuts by placing them on a pitted stone and then striking them with another rock.

They also have their own insect repellent that they make by crushing millipedes and rubbing them on their bodies to ward off mosquitos.

Monkeys Show Aggression On Their Faces And Bodies

If you want to know if a monkey is feeling aggressive, note the following body language: it will grin, pull its lips, yawn, bob its head, or jerk its head and shoulders forward.

This is interesting because as humans we consider some of these behaviors to mean other things.

Monkeys Thrive On Being Social

A monkey is not a solitary animal. It needs to have constant interaction with other monkeys, or humans if it is in captivity.

Out in the wild, monkeys will live in groups that are called tribes, troops, or missions.

These groups work together to look after the young monkeys, but members of the group also spend time playing and cuddling each other, as Live Science reports.

They can be quite vocal and like to communicate, which could also cause them to be a bit noisy.

This is why it’s essential for their enclosure to be far away from your bedroom window or the neighbor’s home!

There Are Differences Between New World And Old World Monkeys

Different Types Of Monkeys

In our table at the beginning of this article, we mentioned these two categories of monkeys.

Old World monkeys are ones that lack prehensile tails, but New World monkeys do have them.

These tails enable the monkey to hang from tree branches and grasp objects.

While Old World monkeys don’t have that, they do have the cool ability of being able to store food in their cheeks.

These different types of monkeys also look different.

Old World monkeys have curved nostrils that are close together while New World monkeys have nostrils that are further apart and rounder in shape.

Examples of Old World monkeys are baboons, macaques, and mandrills.

New World monkeys include species such as the squirrel monkey and capuchin.

Their Young Can Have Different Coloring

Sometimes monkeys give birth to their young and these small monkeys have a totally different color from their parents.

This isn’t something that just happens. It’s been said that this different coloring makes it easier for the other monkeys in the group to notice and also look after the babies.

The young monkeys’ color will change as they get older so that they look like their parents.

Monkeys Live In A Variety Of Habitats

Different monkeys will live in different regions and environments. New World monkeys live in forests and some of them don’t leave their trees.

Old World monkeys tend to live on the ground. When it comes to climate, most monkeys live in warmer temperatures.

However, the Japanese macaque lives in areas that are covered in snow for many months of the year.

This is an Old World monkey that can be found on three of Japan’s islands.

Monkey Moms Share Similarities With Human Moms

Two Monkeys

The way a human mother and her baby will bond is similar to how a monkey mom bonds with her young.

Newborn monkeys are extremely sensitive to their mother’s voice, movements, and expressions.

When macaques and their young were studied, it was found that the mothers and their infants would gaze into each other’s eyes, as Live Science reports.

Monkey Items For Sale

Buy yourself one or more of these items related to monkeys – it’ll make your day.

Monkey T-Shirts

Choose a cute monkey t-shirt that comes in a range of different colors.

You can also find monkey tees that have funny sayings on them, such as “I am a nerd. Get over it,” along with a picture of a monkey wearing spectacles.

Monkey Pillows And Bedding

If you want to update your bedroom decor to reflect your love of monkeys, or you want to design your kid’s bedroom with a monkey theme, monkey pillows and bedding come in handy.

There are lots of pillows with monkey images on them available online, from ones that are artistic to others that are cute and funny.

Monkey Mugs

Monkey mugs will give you a nice treat whenever you enjoy some tea or coffee.

You can find monkey creature mugs that contain a small monkey ornament at the bottom of the mug that’s revealed when you drink your beverage, as well as custom mugs that have a picture of a monkey on them under which you can have your name printed.

Monkey Keychain

Pink Keychain

Everyone needs something to put their keys on, and if you’re a monkey lover this monkey keychain will put a smile on your face every time you look at it. It’s also a fantastic gift for loved ones.

Monkey Emojis And Gifs

You don’t have to look far to find a monkey emoji to send to your friends – there are a few right in WhatsApp!

If you want others, visit Emojipedia. There are loads of cute monkey emojis on there.

There are also lots of monkey gifs you can find online. Tenor has lots of cute, funny, and interesting monkey gifs to check out.

One of their best categories is “baby monkey” where you’ll see lots of loving and cute monkey infants.

Books About Monkeys

Increase your knowledge of these special creatures by reading up on monkeys. Here are some of the best monkey books to read.

The Primate Family Tree by Ian Redmond

The Primate Family Tree by Ian Redmond

This is a fantastic resource for anyone who craves a deeper knowledge about monkeys. There’s lots of information about both New World monkeys and Old World monkeys.

My Life With The Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall

My Life With The Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is well-known for her time spent among the chimpanzees, and this book takes us through her journey to Africa where she spent time with chimpanzees in the wild.

It’s an interesting and inspiring story that people of all ages will enjoy.

Related Questions

Should monkeys eat bananas?

Bananas have lots of sugar and calories that are bad for monkeys because it can lead to health conditions such as diabetes.

Avoid giving your monkey bananas because it’s like junk food to them, the source continues.

Do monkeys get along with dogs and cats?

Every situation will be different. Some monkeys will be fine with other pets, such as cats and dogs, but others won’t.

It’s therefore important to consider all your pets and their personalities before you bring them together.


While it might seem easier to keep a monkey than a different kind of exotic pet, the truth is that it can be quite challenging.

However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

You just have to ensure that you follow some important tips, such as when it comes to the monkey’s diet and enclosure, as we’ve outlined in this article.

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