Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

Depends on where you live –

Finger monkeys, also called pocket monkeys and pygmy marmosets, are tiny monkeys that typically are 5″6″ in size. They are one of the few species of monkeys that are allowed to live as domesticated pets in some states.

Typically, finger monkeys cost $1,500-$4,000 each.

The life span of finger monkeys was previously recorded as 15 years, but in captivity, its life span ranges from 6 to 9 years.

This variety of monkeys is not so easy to keep, so one should adequate preparation to raise them at home or on farms. Finger monkeys need to be fed every two hours as a baby for about two weeks
To keep them, you also need to get a special permit, and the regulations vary in each state. Next, to get a license, you also have to guarantee that there is a primate veterinarian available nearby. A Pocket Monkey vet is not a typical general animal veterinarian but someone with a primate specialization.

It is illegal in South America to export finger monkeys and also illegal to import some such types of primates in the US. Despite strict regulations, many people keep them as pets as they are so cute.

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

That’s cruel. Most die an early death. They belong with their family, not as a bauble on your finger or for your cat’s breakfast. They have the same feelings as you and me. They love Mommy, play with others, want to reproduce, have fears, feel love and devotion—on and on. Don’t deprive them of a normal life, I beg you.

Here’s the straight answer: In 2012, 19 states had outright bans on private monkey ownership. They are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming. 

Ok, now that you know where you are not allowed to own a monkey, let’s talk a little about why more and more of these laws against owning primates (and other wild animals) are being put in place:

To put it simply, it’s unethical.

I know they are cute. Adorable, actually. They seem like better pets than dogs or cats. I know they are human-like, and it feels like you’d get to have another little family member. I know they might not be illegal in your state. I get the appeal.

But here are three basic reasons why people should not own finger monkeys—or any other monkey:

  1. Unlike dogs and cats, monkeys have not been bred for thousands of years to be our pets. Dogs and cats like being pets—it’s what they were born to do. They understand us, want to be near us, and need us. Monkeys do not.
  2. Monkeys are social animals like us—which is partly what makes them so cute and appealing—but it’s also what makes them so unhappy when we take them away from their parents, families, homes, and natural environments. No matter how tiny, they are MUCH more intelligent than other animals. Like us, they need their parents to raise and teach them. They have complex forms of communication, emotion, and social hierarchy.
  3. When primates are turned into pets, they are sweet and reliant on us—at first. Then they get older. They have not been taught proper social cues by other monkeys, which takes away their sense of “place,” their role, their natural behavior, and their ability to show/react to empathy, touch, and communication. This makes them confused, erratic, and lonely. They dont have the stimulation they would in the wild and become bored. This makes them aggressive. They crave social dominance: This makes them “fight” for a higher role in their human family. This is why you hear so many horror stories about larger apes like chimps turning viciously violent.

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

Last, you don’t hear the horror stories about owning smaller monkeys as much, but here is a TRUE story I know from personal experience:

A woman adopted a Capuchin (think the monkey in Friends). He was cute, loving, and needy as a baby. Then he got older. He became the monkey version of a “teenager.” He was hormonal. He craved attention. He craved social stimulation the owner didn’t know how to give. He wanted to be alpha.

The owner didn’t know how to read any of these cues. She didn’t know his language, and he didn’t know hers. One day, seemingly “out of the blue,” he tore all the flesh from the top of her forearm down to the palms of her hands off. He skinned her with his teeth and nails.

He was an illegal pet in the state she lived in. No vet, no shelter, would take him in. She locked him in the basement because she didn’t want to get in legal trouble and was scared of him.

He was traumatized and isolated. He lost his only social connection, which led him to become more and more aggressive and erratic. Finally, he was rescued by an organization that takes in many, many pet primates with the same stories.

He spent the rest of his life in a sanctuary without being touched by other humans. He was violent and not able to interact normally with other monkeys because he had never learned how to interact with them. He could not make friends, find a mate, or regulate his own emotions.

I know this is harsh and long! But it’s important to understand. It’s not anyone’s fault for wanting a pet finger monkey—no one gets these animals as pets planning on hurting or being hurt by them. It just happens, which is why it is illegal in most places to own them.

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The finger monkey is very small and, at full grown, isn’t very big. How are they as pets?

Needs improvement. By “finger monkey”, I assume you mean the pygmy marmoset? No, not a good pet. I have not worked with pygmy marmosets; however, I HAVE had a lot of experience with other primates, including the closely related common marmosets. 

Problems with primates in the house include:

-enclosure- do you reasonably have an outdoor, room temperature space for the monkey? Small doesn’t mean smaller enclosure; they’re arboreal, which means they travel far and wide foraging. You’ll need an enclosure that’s secure, warm and at least several feet wide by several feet tall.

-destructive behaviour- zoos are CONSTANTLY hiding and removing food in enclosures in weird spots and providing natural toys and enrichment, anything from wood and bamboo to other natural scraps. 

Most dog toys aren’t fit for a monkey as they’ll tear them up fairly quickly, so do you have the money for $100+ per month on toys alone? A similarly sized bird or rodent is much less destructive. Doesn’t help primates have thumbs.

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

-diet- expensive. While “monkey chow” is increasingly available on online vendors, they can’t live solely off this. Fresh fruits, veggies, eggs, cooked meats, insects, etc must be provided daily and can get very expensive.

-handling- monkeys are social animals and MUST live with others of their kind. But if they live with their kind, they’re less tame to the owner, often as tame as a wild squirrel, so owners will often get one monkey and handle it. BAD IDEA!! 

These monkeys are pampered and eventually try to outsmart their owners. If they don’t get their way, they get upset and dangerous. A finger monkey can scratch you up pretty good, and this goes to the main number one reason you should not keep any primate or prosimian as a pet:

Monkeys and humans are full of diseases that can be easily transferred between one another! This is the first time I have seen this point brought up by other folks who don’t recommend monkeys. However, even if you DID have the experience and licenses/permits necessary, you still shouldn’t for this reason alone!

Zoonotic diseases are easily transferred between humans and monkeys. Having to handle the monkey every day increases these chances greatly. What if you have the Cold? Did you know the common Cold is lethal to monkeys? And most vets and even special exotic animal vets have next to no if any, experience with primates. 

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

What happens when you’re sick and handle it? What happens if the monkey bites you? Do you know what shots they need? Even if they have their shots, they’ll likely be put down immediately if they bite anyone else. Then, the lawsuits emerge.

If it isn’t already clear, don’t get a monkey. Trust me from experience. Like monkeys? Get a plush monkey. It’s just as cute as the real thing and won’t tear up your home in shreds. Or donate to some primate conservation funds. Help wild monkeys. Please. Anything but a pet monkey. There are other ways to enjoy and help them.

Why should I consider having a monkey as a pet?

Monkeys are not pets.

Pets (aka general domesticated, non-wild species) have been raised and prepared to live with humans. Monkeys don’t. I have been taking care of a spider monkey on a natural reserve in Caparó, Venezuela. Trust me. A monkey needs other monkeys to be happy.

Let me make things more understandable: you are a monkey. Do you know which is the worst nightmare for a monkey? Solitude. We have prisons and prisoners. Those are always isolated from the rest of society as the worst punishment possible for a person.

Even if you thought about having a group of monkeys, you would be limiting their lives. Monkeys are not ready for human life and will only be happy with humans if they are raised and domesticated after a few generations.

But I don’t think it’s worth doing so anyway. That’s not an ethical solution.

Leave monkeys right where they are if you want a happy pet with you.

If you insist on having an exotic animal, choose a rare breed of dog or cat if you want. But don’t let that desire push you to promote illegal exotic animal traffic, which killed a lot of now-extinct monkey species.

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

Are any breeds of monkeys good pets?

Monkeys Do Not – make good pets! I had a friend who had a small, skinny monkey that he kept in a cage; he kept it in the cage because it traveled everywhere and was into everything. 

Although they had said it was supposed to be a docile monkey, it could be very dangerous when not around its owner or his family. Another friend and I stopped by to see this little monkey.

Not liking the looks of him, seeing those very sharp teeth and his steady moving all over the cage made me somewhat cautious. Let’s say, Davie, the friend who owned him, gave my other friend a biscuit to feed him; not a good choice! 

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The monkey grabbed the biscuit and then proceeded to bite my friend’s finger to the bone. He had to have stitches and shots for possible infection. 

They need to be cleaner and carry lots of bacteria. He finally was told to get rid of the monkey, and things returned to normal, along with joy from Davey’s friends. They are wild, most are very strong, and should be left in the wild where they belong. My opinion that I strongly stand on!

What would I need to get in order to get a pet monkey?

Monkeys are terrible, temporary pets.

You’re going to pay at least $5,000 to buy a traumatized baby monkey who was literally torn out of his screaming mother’s arms.

The baby monkey will be adorable, but he’ll have psychological problems because normally he would stay with his mom for years, but to become your pet, he will be taken away from his mom after only a few days.

This is what it looks like when a baby monkey is separated from its mother. Notice the baby is rooting, instinctively searching for a nipple that isn’t there:

Your monkey will be isolated from his kind as well and will grow up in a human home without a troop. But monkeys are social creatures, so your monkey will become unhappy for reasons he doesn’t understand, and you won’t either.

Your monkey will begin self-soothing behavior that hints at developing psychological problems, like clinging to a stuffed animal and incessantly rocking to simulate the feeling of holding on to his mother’s fur.

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

From baby to destructive juvenile

By about 8 to 10 months, your monkey will be fully ambulatory and will want to play, explore, and climb things. He will destroy things in your home unless you stop him, but if you do stop him, he will become frustrated, and he won’t understand why you’re not allowing him to be a monkey. He will have no concept of what it means to “behave” by human standards.

By about a year old, you’ll see major changes. Your monkey will become more aggressive and increasingly frustrated at his situation — he’s biologically hardwired to live in a troop with complex social relationships, to forage and groom. 

Still, he won’t be able to do any of those things because he’s living in a human home with “owners” who expect him to behave and make him wear diapers.

As your monkey reaches a year and a half old, he’s going to be a not-so-little bundle of destructive energy. He will no longer be the adorable, docile baby who wants to cling to you and drink milk from a bottle. He will begin to resent you.

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?
Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

(Video: A pet monkey engages in self-mutilation from the stress and depression of living as a pet in a human home.)

He will become even more destructive and will cause thousands of dollars in damage to your home unless you keep him locked in his enclosure or you abuse him. His frustration will start to boil over, and he will begin to bite you and anyone who lives with you.

He will claim you or another family member as “his” person, and he will go ballistic if anyone else interacts with that person. This is because he wasn’t raised properly, he didn’t have a mother, and he doesn’t understand human relationships.

Getting rid of your beloved monkey pet

This is also usually the point where self-mutilation behavior begins, and your monkey may begin biting his arms and legs.

If you’ve lasted that long, by two years, you WILL be looking to get rid of your monkey.

You will look to sell him, but no one will pay $5,000 for a juvenile. Everyone wants cute babies.

You will look for sanctuaries, but thousands of monkeys are purchased as pets every year in the US, and some 99 percent of them are abandoned when they’re no longer docile babies. 

Your situation won’t be unique, and finding a spot for your monkey in a sanctuary will be a major task because they’re all filled. If you are lucky enough to find a sanctuary to take him, you’ll have to donate monthly to the sanctuary to help cover the costs of taking care of him.

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

Capuchins and macaques can live until they’re 25 years or even older. That means you will ruin an animal’s entire life for one or two years by pretending he’s your baby.

And if you’re really determined to get rid of your formerly beloved monkey, but no one’s interested, you might be so desperate that you’re willing to drive 30 miles to a wooded area and release him. 

He will die because he doesn’t know how to survive on his own, and to him, food is something that is placed before him, not something he can find in the wild. If he’s lucky, a predator will kill him quickly. If he’s unlucky, he will starve.

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The cost of keeping a monkey as a pet

If none of the above dissuades you and you’re determined to buy a pet monkey, you will need the following:

  • To live in a state where private ownership is allowed.
  • At least $5,000, and often significantly more than that, to buy a capuchin, macaque, tamarin, or marmoset.
  • Money for permits and inspections. Budget at least $500. Most states will require home inspections to make sure your enclosure is appropriate, and your pet won’t pose a danger to your neighbors.
  • Another $10,000 or so for a proper enclosure that includes things to climb, objects for stimulation, and lots of stuffed animals for your monkey to cling to while he misses his mom. If you skimp out and go with a small enclosure, your monkey will rage every time he’s in there.
  • Monthly insurance payments to legally keep your monkey.
  • Thousands of additional dollars for the specialist veterinarian you will need to visit. You’ll have a major problem finding a vet who will take a client with a primate, and you may end up driving hours if you can’t find any local vets who will go near a monkey.
  • Money for diapers (preemie size), clothes, food and incidentals.

All told you’ll be spending a huge chunk of cash for a wild animal who should never be a pet, and you’ll keep the monkey for a maximum of two years. The rest of that poor monkey’s life will consist of being sold and re-sold from owner to owner or living in a sanctuary where he can’t interact with the other monkeys because he never learned how.

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

It’s really not worth it, and you can find hundreds of first-person accounts and testimonials from people who tried it before you did and learned the hard way that monkeys aren’t pets.

Edit: People have asked about the above videos and the comments. A woman in China owns those monkeys. 

This video explains the circumstances and shows how she treats them, but be warned, it’s not easy to watch. Unfortunately, this video is typical of the way monkeys are treated there:

Those monkeys are still with that woman now, as are many others. If anyone knows how to get the attention of Chinese law enforcement, that’s the only thing that will stop this.

What’s it like to have a pet monkey?

It is like having a “terrible two” year-old child who is unpredictable, able to bite to the bone, can climb higher than you can, has temper tantrums at the drop of a hat and possibly attacks a random person in displaced aggression, wears diapers while inside, needs constant attention. 

Oh yeah, and you know when you go on vacation??? Yep, that’s over. You can’t take it across some state lines, and you can’t leave it at home with a normal pet sitter. You are in constant fear of him/ her biting someone and you being sued or, worse, having the animal taken or put down. 

You must find vets that specialize in primates. (There’s usually about 1 or 2 per state) and it is expensive!!! Enrichment toys, diapers, specially formulated and balanced diets. And you must realize they are an exotic animal- they will NEVER be a “pet” like a cat or a dog.

They will reach a point in their life where they will attack you. It is in their nature to challenge the “head of the troop.” this is hard to grasp, but it’s true. They need others of their kind to thrive, and you are simply a caregiver. If you can’t read between the lines…… don’t get an exotic and expect a pet. 🙂

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?
Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

Can you buy and keep a Capuchin monkey as a pet?

Britt Vaughn: We have had monkeys for over twenty years, and, yes, they are certainly not the right pet for most people. Your statement that monkeys carry multiple diseases intimates that ALL monkeys carry diseases that humans can contract. 

That isn’t so! I have been around hundreds of monkeys kept by private owners, and never, never has one person contracted a disease from such a monkey. 

Once, it went the other way, and one of our Capuchins did get a cold from a human! Other than that, our monkeys have never been sick, and NONE of them have ever thrown faeces! Each of our monkeys has different personalities, and they all love to cuddle. 

The youngest is 13 years old, adores people, and never has bitten, but thinks (at 5 pounds) he is supposed to keep our 125-pound Bernese Mountain Dogs in line. 

The oldest is 21 years old, a large Spider monkey who loves nothing better than to lie in our laps and get massaged. We have had all of them from infancy, but we also belong to the Simian Society of America and, in the beginning, learned a lot from the long-time members. 

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

The negative side of owning a monkey for most people is the CONSTANT care, cleaning their huge cages, planning their diets, having a primate vet in one’s area, and never getting to go on vacation as the ordinary person could never step in and care for them. 

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All monkeys will test their place in the “troop,” but there are gentle but firm ways to train them away from such. One of our Capuchins learned at an early age that if he wanted to bite us, he should put a blanket over our arms and bite that. 

I could write much more, but I will end with a most thrilling event I experienced a couple of years ago at a sanctuary that took in retired primate performers. One chimp was there because one of his owners had become severely ill. 

Her husband would fly to the sanctuary every two weeks to spend time with their chimp. One day, the owner invited me to go into the enclosure with his chimp… a full-grown male. When I walked in, this amazing animal gently took my hand and led me to a bench. We sat down; he took my face in both his hands and stared at me. We hugged for a long, long time. 

Then he led me to another spot, and we sat holding one another for a long time. What an experience! In closing, I agree that probably 99% of the population should not even consider owning a primate, but for those of us who have devoted our lives to them, monkeys are family members!

How do I get a monkey as a pet in California, and what breeds are legal to keep? Also, is it ethical?

It is not ethical. There is no way you can create or replace their natural home. They need their families. Many of them are highly intelligent.

Pretend that you were kidnapped and kept in a cage by creatures much bigger than you, who wanted you to eat their food, and you were expected to tolerate being fondled and played with as a toy. Is that a life for a sentient being?

Is it ethical to keep a monkey as a pet?

No. Monkeys literally go insane when they’re captive and isolated from their kind. Keeping them as pets is incredibly cruel. Every major primatologist, from Jane Goodall to Frans de Waal, has condemned the practice of keeping monkeys as pets because of how destructive it is to the monkeys.

Aside from destroying the life of an innocent animal, keeping a monkey as a pet is only ever a temporary arrangement — the vast majority of monkey “owners” get rid of their pets within two years as the monkey transitions from docile, adorable baby to rambunctious juvenile. 

Once they hit puberty, monkeys become uncontrollable, aggressive, violent and extremely frustrated with their situations as pets — in the wild, they’d normally have a rich social life with their families, troops and potential mates, spending their days grooming and foraging. They’re genetically hardwired for that kind of life, and it’s denied to them when they are kept as pets.

Is it legal to own a pet finger monkey?

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