Pet Monkeys - Why Is It a Bad Idea to Have One?

Primates are often interesting to humans due to their striking resemblance to us. Unfortunately, it often leads us to believe that having a pet monkey is a good idea.
Pet Monkeys - Why Is It a Bad Idea to Have One?
Eugenio Fernández Suárez

Written and verified by the vet Eugenio Fernández Suárez.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Like most exotic animals, the maintenance costs of pet monkeys are quite high. But there are many other reasons why it’s not a good idea to have one in captivity. Continue reading to find out more about it.

Pet monkeys – forbidden in many countries

The possession of pet monkeys is illegal in some countries. They’re only allowed in zoos, for conservation, and research.

A monkey in a palm tree.

This doesn’t prevent the illegal trade of these animals though. However, buying them can lead to fines and even prison. Not to mention how a person is supporting the illegal trade of an endangered species.

In many cases, these animals supposedly have papers. Unfortunately, such documents are often counterfeit. There are minimal to zero regulations in some countries in this regard. This is why you can see videos of people with pet monkeys online. However, there are many reasons not to have one, even if it’s legal to do so in your country.

They carry and can transmit serious diseases

Monkeys and people are primates and thus we have many of the same diseases. This means a pet monkey could be a huge health risk

This is because some of these diseases might not be too dangerous for these animals. In fact, they may not even get sick due to them but keep in mind they’re carriers who can transmit it and it could be deadly to a human. Herpesvirus B is an example of this. It’s often present in macaque populations and leads to certain deadly neurological diseases.

People seldom make sure the animals have been checked out a vet before acquiring them, as they do so illegally. So, most of them haven’t even been vaccinated. This is why it’s quite common for these animals to be carriers of diseases such as AIDS, which they can transmit through biting.

For them, it is a psychological trauma

Unlike most domestic animals, keeping a monkey as a pet takes away their identity. This is because all primates should spend at least 10 years with their mother to learn what they need for their proper survival.

Thus, these animals will have identity issues and won’t know to behave if you separate them from their mothers. Humanization is a form of animal cruelty. Also, many of these animals often end up abandoned and by then it’s nearly impossible to rehabilitate them psychologically in the primate sanctuaries designated for that purpose.

Mother-child relationships are very important in primates. In fact, many mothers will rather die before letting anyone separate them from their offspring. As you can imagine, these babies often undergo violent and bloody experiences when kidnapped by the poachers who continue to encourage illegal trade.

There are some animals bred in captivity for commercial purposes and this is also very traumatic for them because people separate mothers from their young time and again. Many mothers stop eating out of grief and subsequently die.

In addition, when people illegally transport monkeys to the cities they place them inside suitcases and even in plastic bottles. Yes, many of them suffocate and die. Estimates indicate that nine out of ten animals die during transit. As you can see, it’s one of the most outrageous forms of animal abuse.

A pet monkey often ends up abandoned

It’s nearly impossible to keep a pet monkey inside a house for too long. Also, humans often misunderstand their facial expressions as many of us don’t know these have completely different meanings than our human ones. Thus, they usually end up biting someone.

A monkey in a field.

Most monkeys can live from 20 to 60 years and they become stronger and more dangerous as they become older. For this reason, they often end up abandoned. There are times when people lock them up in the attic or just slaughter them in order to avoid fines for possessing an illegal animal.

The luckier ones end up in primate sanctuaries, where people try to teach them to be monkeys again. Of course, this is a long process and can take over a decade as many of them must overcome their phobias and fears. As you can imagine, this is pretty much impossible in some cases and so the animals are condemned to a life of loneliness.

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Talapoin Monkeys: Characteristics, Behavior and Habitat
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Talapoin Monkeys: Characteristics, Behavior and Habitat

Talapoin monkeys are the smallest primates in Africa. There are only two species of this monkey and they live in central Africa.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Centro de Rescate de Primates Rainfer. (2014). Rainfer, ofreciendoles una segunda oportunidad a los primates. Recuperado el 15 de febrero de 2022, disponible en:

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