Monkey Diet Tips

Feeding time is one of the most important moments in the day of a monkey.  Therefore it is very important that you take the necessary time to prepare it. 

A varied diet is very important to avoid boredom and loss of appetite.   Commercial primate diet should be included in their meal because it is very balanced and therefore healthy food for your monkey. 

Make sure that fresh water is available at all times.  

Feed your monkey 2 to 3 times per day.

For monkeys like spiders, capuchins, squirrels, marmosets and tamarins you should hang up your bowl or your feeding platform.

Depending on the size of your monkey you will have to cut up the food in bigger or smaller pieces.

Vitamins are very important for primates.  Especially new world primates (like marmosets and tamarins) need extra vit D3 if they are kept indoors (do not overdose).  When they don't have enough direct sunlight extra vitamins are required (or the use of Vitalights) to prevent them from getting metabolic bone disease such as rickets.  In our store we sell a Primate Vitamin Mixture that fits the need of your primate

Never feed your monkey raw meat, baby mice's or cockroaches (toxoplasmonia, protozoa, helminthes, worms ...).

Make sure that your fresh vegetables and fresh fruits is washed before feeding.

So what do I need to feed my monkey?

  • Commercial primate diet from Zupreem or Mazuri
  • Limited amount of fresh fruit like blue berries, mango, apple, papaya, grapes, banana, ...
  • Fresh vegetables like carrots, cucumber, fennel, onions, cauliflower, tomato, ...
  • Cooked vegetables like peas, cauliflower, green beans, ...
  • Baby cereal
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Cooked meat like chicken and turkey
  • Cooked fish
  • Brown Rice
  • Unsalted seeds, grains and nuts
  • Insects like mealworms and grasshoppers

Marmosets and bushbabies are known as gum-feeders. With their sharp teeth they gnaw holes in trees to get the gum. In the wild they spend 1/3 of their time doing this. Besides the fact that "it will keep them busy for a while", it's also a source of energy, calcium and other minerals. It is known that also other species like squirrels or tamarins like arabic gum.

Mix one part of powder with two parts of water (or fruit juice). After two to three hours it's ready for distribution. Drill some holes into wood (like branches or bamboo) and fill them with this prepared gum.

In the wild primates have to hunt and search for food so they get a lot of exercise and it keeps them busy. In captivity it is also very important that your monkey is busy all the time to avoid boredom. If you just give all their food in a bowl, they will be done eating in minutes so perhaps it isn't a bad idea to make your monkey search and work for his food.

A few ideas to extend feeding time

  • Put their favorite food in a box which they have to open before being able to access it.
  • Hang up a plastic pipe horizontally with small holes in it and put some bedding and mealworms inside it. Your monkey will have to wait till a mealworm crawls out before he can eat it.
  • Use a plastic bucket with a hole in it (size of your monkeys hand) and put some fruits or vegetables in it. The nice thing about this bucket is that they can only take one piece at the time and there is also something like a surprise effect for them.
  • The use of several small feeding bowls on different places can be a good idea too.

Shared feeding enrichment ideas

Waterhose Treats

I cut waterhoses up into about 8  inch long pieces, piped them full of peanut butter, placed them in the freezer and then stuck a stick in there when I was getting ready to give it to the animals and they would each go about getting the peanut butter out in different ways but the stick was to simulate what tool they used in a natural setting to get out termites/ants ... etc ... they had the best time working with that treat...

Beth Granger

Monkey Cereal Balls

I got this recipe from one of the biggest zoos in Belgium. They give it to all their monkeys but I give those cereal balls to my marmoset monkeys. They love it and it's very healthy so ... try it yourself. Simply mix powdered baby milk with boiling water. Then add baby cereal and protein powder and mix until you got a solid mixture. If made correctly, you can now roll small cereal balls which you can feed to your monkeys. You could also add the left over powder of commercial primate diets to this mixture.

Johan Mommens

Kong Enrichment Treats

One of the best enrichment devices are the dog kongs you can get at any pet stores. They have them in all sizes, so get one that your monkey can easily handle, and can get their fingers into.

Take the kong toy and plaster peanut butter over the small open end.  Roll it in oatmeal, freeze it. When frozen solid, take it out, fill it with cereals, cut fruit/veggies, and other treats. I will usually fill it up with juice or water even, and refreeze (those strawberry/tomato green plastic mesh mini basket things work great for keeping them upright in the freezer). Also, top off with a banana slice, a half of a cherry tomato, or another goodie on the large open end, to get them started eating it.

Good good good... plus they get to keep the kong for after treat playing activity!

Kristin Key

Veggie/Fruit Bottle

6-7oz water
3 scoops infant formula
1 jar strained baby veggies or fruits (I alternate)
5 monk chow biscuits

In blender, put 4oz water and monk biscuits. Blend until biscuits are totally chopped. Add formula and baby food + water until desired texture for bottle.

Even very fussy eaters will usually take this, and it gets monk chow into them also which is rather important.

Makes 8-9oz - throw out any left after 3 days.

Sue Druan

Banana Skins

One of the enrichments we've used included banana skins, and they are safe for macaques, don't know about capuchins or spiders, or any others.   take a banana, skin it, if you can just split the skin, that's the best, split it lengthwise, then stuff it full of things, mixed fruits, cereals in substance, then freeze 'em!!!

You can roll the banana in granola and freeze it too, works great for foraging stimulation. Also, take a paper bag, mix some cereal with some honey, or jam, or pnut butter, and pack the bottom of the bag, sack lunch!

Kristin Key