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Should You Keep a Pet Monkey?

Taking on a pet monkey is not akin to caring for typical household pets. A monkey’s lifespan, ranging from 20 to 40 years, demands a lifelong commitment, full of unexpected challenges and responsibilities. Unlike other pets, monkeys do not transition from adorable infants to manageable adults; instead, they often become more difficult over time.

This article aims to provide an in-depth look at the various challenges you may face if you choose to keep a pet monkey, including behavioral, medical, and legal aspects.

Do Monkeys Make Good Pets?

Monkeys, unlike human children, do not mature and become independent. They remain in a permanent toddler-like state, requiring constant attention and care. This can create significant challenges in adapting to new family members, including spouses and children.

Monkeys are not just pets; they are a lifestyle commitment, making it difficult to manage family dynamics and even simple things like vacations. A monkey deprived of adequate social interaction and attention is likely to develop severe behavioral problems, such as screaming and biting, and psychological issues that are difficult to remedy.

The legality of keeping monkeys as pets varies significantly across countries and states. In the United States, for instance, the laws differ from state to state.

Some states have outright bans, while others have specific restrictions and requirements. Even in states where it is legal, owning a monkey often requires permits and regular home inspections to ensure proper care and facilities.

Additionally, owning a monkey can complicate homeowner insurance policies, often requiring additional liability coverage. In some cases, insurance companies may cancel your policy if they discover you own a monkey.

Cost of Owning a Pet Monkey

The financial aspect of owning a monkey goes beyond the initial purchase price, which can be exorbitant. For example, capuchin monkeys may cost between $5,000 to $7,000, while chimpanzees can cost upwards of $50,000.

This is just the beginning, as the ongoing costs of care, including food, veterinary care, and habitat maintenance, are also substantial. These costs can add up quickly, making the financial commitment as significant as the time and emotional investment.

Life Span and Commitment

A monkey’s long lifespan means a commitment that can span several decades. Depending on the species, a monkey can live anywhere from 15 to over 50 years.

This long-term commitment goes beyond just providing a home. It includes ensuring their physical and psychological health, adapting your life to meet their needs, and considering their care in your long-term plans, including financial planning and estate arrangements.

Medical Issues

The risk of zoonotic diseases – diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans – is a significant concern with pet monkeys. These include serious illnesses like tuberculosis, yellow fever, B virus, and monkeypox.

Finding a veterinarian skilled in primate care can be challenging and costly. Monkeys also require specialized diets to prevent common health issues, such as diabetes, which is prevalent due to poor diets provided by many owners.

Behavioral Problems

Behavioral issues are a major challenge with pet monkeys. The cute, dependent baby monkey will grow into its wild nature, regardless of how it is raised.

Monkeys never become truly domesticated, and lacking normal social relationships with other monkeys can lead to significant behavioral problems and neuroses.

Monkeys are known to bite, and their behavior can be unpredictable. Even the gentlest monkey can become aggressive, particularly during and after puberty, posing a risk to owners and others.

Housing and Maintenance

Providing appropriate housing for a monkey is both challenging and expensive. They require large, secure enclosures, preferably with access to outdoor space. Monkeys need a variety of toys and exercise equipment to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

Failure to provide such an environment can lead to boredom and further behavioral issues. Additionally, monkeys are not naturally clean; most cannot be toilet trained effectively. Many young monkeys can be diapered or partly toilet trained, but this ability often diminishes at maturity.


In conclusion, while monkeys may appear to be charming and unique pets, the reality of keeping one is fraught with challenges. They require a significant commitment in terms of time, finances, and lifestyle adjustments.

The issues of legalities, care requirements, potential health risks, and behavioral challenges make monkeys unsuitable as household pets.

For those considering a monkey as a pet, it is crucial to weigh these factors carefully and consider alternative ways to engage with these fascinating animals, such as supporting wildlife conservation efforts or visiting reputable sanctuaries.


Is it legal to keep a monkey as a pet?

The legality of keeping a monkey as a pet varies by country and state. In many places, it is illegal or subject to strict regulations and licensing.

How long do pet monkeys typically live?

Pet monkeys can live for 20 to 40 years, depending on the species. Some, like chimpanzees, can live for over 50 years.

What are the common behavioral problems in pet monkeys?

Common behavioral problems include aggression, biting, screaming, and destructive behavior, often stemming from psychological stress and lack of proper socialization.

Can monkeys transmit diseases to humans?

Yes, monkeys can carry and transmit zoonotic diseases to humans, including tuberculosis, yellow fever, B virus, and monkeypox.

How much does it cost to purchase and care for a pet monkey?

The initial cost can range from $5,000 to over $50,000, depending on the species. Ongoing care, including food, veterinary expenses, and habitat maintenance, can be very costly.

Are monkeys easy to train and domesticate?

Monkeys are not easy to train and never become fully domesticated like dogs or cats. They retain their wild nature and can be unpredictable.

What kind of environment is required for a pet monkey?

Monkeys require a large, secure enclosure with access to outdoor space and various toys and exercise equipment to prevent boredom and promote physical and mental health.

Can monkeys be toilet trained?

While some young monkeys can be diapered or partly toilet trained, this ability is often lost at maturity, making cleanliness a significant challenge.

What should I consider before getting a pet monkey?

Consider the legal implications, long-term commitment, financial costs, potential health risks, behavioral challenges, and ethical concerns of keeping a wild animal as a pet.

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FaunaFolio is a dedicated team of wildlife enthusiasts committed to sharing their knowledge and passion for the animal kingdom. Through our comprehensive and engaging content, we aim to inspire appreciation and promote conservation of wildlife.

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