Can You Keep a Monkey as a Pet?

Last Updated on May 6, 2023 by ellen

Have you wondered if you can keep a monkey as a pet? There is no straight “yes or no” answer to this – it depends on many things, from local laws to your household dynamic. But generally speaking, yes, you can keep a monkey as a pet; but that doesn’t mean you should. 

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Can You Keep a Monkey as a Pet?

Can You Keep a Monkey as a Pet?

There’s a lot to think about before adding any pet to your home. That’s true whether you’re talking about a cat, a goldfish, or something more exotic like a monkey. Here are some considerations and suggestions on keeping a monkey as a pet.

Is a Monkey Right for You?

Remember that a monkey is a wild animal. It is never really a domestic pet like a cat or dog. Did you know that most monkeys that are seen out and about are actually babies? Adult monkeys tend to get aggressive and end up in cages.

Monkeys are mischievous and intelligent, and they can be very destructive, from opening and pillaging kitchen cabinets to tearing out window screens. And let’s not forget that they can turn on faucets, televisions, and open refrigerators. Having a monkey in the house is sort of like having a toddler set on “high.”

Cleaning up after a monkey can be challenging, too – they can be housebroken when young, but may forget when older.

What Kinds of Monkeys are Kept as Pets?

Not just any monkey can be kept as a pet. The usual ones you’ll see available as pets include capuchins, guenons, macaques, squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, and marmosets.

Is It Legal?

It’s entirely possible that it’s not legal to keep a monkey in your area. If it is legal, you may need to apply for a permit.


Monkeys can be very expensive to purchase. And you’ll need to pay a bundle for a proper cage. An outdoor enclosure is ideal, but an indoor enclosure will do. It will need to have a lot of diversions and accessories, and you’ll need to change your monkey’s environment regularly to prevent boredom.

Vet Care

It can be really hard to find a vet who specializes in primates. If you do find one, you may need to drive many miles to get to him or her.


Monkeys need to be fed twice daily, and they do best on a varied diet. You can use a commercial primate diet for starters, but you’ll need to supplement with “people foods” like hard cooked eggs, veggies, fruits, and even baby cereal. Your monkey may need a vitamin supplement, too, especially if it is kept largely indoors with little sunlight exposure.

Sources generally agree that monkeys are really not the best choice for a family pet. As babies, they are cute and cuddly and fairly docile; but when they grow up, they get messy, stressed, destructive, and often aggressive. And don’t forget that monkeys can carry serious diseases that can be passed on to humans.

14 thoughts on “Can You Keep a Monkey as a Pet?

  1. Oh growing up I always wanted a monkey for a pet. I would never try it now as an adult…but they are so cute. I love watching them!

  2. I think everyone loves the “idea” of having a pet monkey, but I can not image really doing it! They are cute but….. I feel like they would tear up the house really quick!

  3. I always wanted a monkey when I was younger. My friend and I wanted to train one for a non-profit volunteering agency so it could then help someone with disabilities. We never got to do that!

  4. I would have guessed that they were a lot of fun and low maintenance since they are smart. I did not realize the direct opposite is true. They are cute tho!

  5. Oh heck no, I have never thought monkeys would make good pets. I don’t find them especially attractive or adorable for one thing, lol. I shall be content visiting them in the zoo thank you!

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