Primates are one of the most attractive animals in our animal kingdom. But, they are unpredictable, destructive, expensive and they need a lot of care and attention. Since some of them can live for over 35 years, they truly are a life-time commitment. Are you the person that is willing to spend most of your free time with you monkey? Before you consider buying a monkey, you have to learn as much as possible about them. Read books, use the internet (primatecare.com is a really great start), try to visit somebody who has primates at home, join monkey related groups on social media so you can talk to people who have primates. Don't just look at the pictures and amazing videos, but actually talk to them to learn more about their care and what is truly involved with keeping a primate as a pet. All species have different personalities so you'll need to find out which species seems perfect for you.
Before buying a primate you have to be sure that you are legally allowed to keep primates where you live. Some places don't allow to keep certain species, other states have complete bans, and some states require a permit. If you live in the USA, first make sure your state doesn't have a primate ban or hasn't applied certain restrictions on keeping primates in your area. The USDA will be able to answer those questions for you. Next, you'll need to check with your local county. While most counties follow state laws, it is possible for your county to have an ordinance that doesn't allow you from keeping a primate in your area. And last, but not least, check your city laws. If you live within city limits, chances are pretty big that your state has an ordinance regarding primate ownership. Your local city clerk should be able to tell you.
Like we said in our intro, monkeys are very expensive animals and buying your monkey is just the beginning. You'll have to build an enclosure as large as possible even if you're thinking about purchasing a small monkey like a marmoset or a tamarin. Don't even think about buying a parrot cage. They are really too small and should never be used to house a primate. You'll also need to provide cooling, heating and light. A monkeys diet consists of commercial primate food, fresh food, fresh or cooked vegetables, cereal, eggs, grasshoppers, meat, nuts, ... So, if you can't afford $3 a day for their care, you really shouldn't buy one. You'll also need to visit your vet at least once a year to make sure your pet monkey stay in perfect health.
If you are not home all the time, you will have to buy a companion for him. Realize when you buy a monkey that it will be nearly impossible for you to travel since it is very hard to find somebody who can and will take care of your monkey.
If you are going to let your monkey run around in your house you will have to keep an eye on them all the time. Larger monkeys are able to open refrigerators, doors even with a lock on it, turn over furniture, swing in curtains, open windows and escape.
One way monkeys like to communicate is with their teeth. It is therefore not unusual for a monkey to bite somebody. Even smaller species like marmosets have pretty sharp teeth and will let you know when they're unhappy. When raising a monkey, it is important to never allow your monkey to bite you even if it is just during playtime. Make sure to keep correcting their behavior to prevent monkeys bites from occuring.
To prevent outsiders from getting injured, it is important that you don't take your monkey out in public too often because a possible bite (even if invoked by the other person) can result in the loss of their life. While there is no officially recognized rabies vacine for primates, it is still recommended to get your primate vacinated. That way if your primate happens to bite someone, it helps reduced the chances that your monkey will be euthanized to look for rabies.
Make sure you find a vet specialized in primates before you buy your monkey. After you buy your monkey, the first thing you should do is visit the primate vet for a regular check up. Most common procedures at the vet office are a complete blood work analysis, rabies vacine, and tetanus shots. To reduce the number of mood swings with your primate, it is also recommended that you get them fixed within a year. Your vet should be able to provide you with the necessary recommendations.
We hear to many times that people can't find a good vet for their monkey when they really need one so make sure to put this item on top of your priority list!
It's time for a reality check. Forget about those movies where you see a monkey perform all kinds of tricks. Unless you are a professional animal trainer you won't be able to teach your monkey a lot. If that is the reason why you want a monkey or if it is just to show-off with them, then you will probably be the first to get ride of them again.
So why would anybody ever want a monkey after knowing all this? Non-human primates are so closely related to us that it scares and excites us at the same. It is so incredible to see how they eat like we do, how they can climb, how they like to play hide and seek, how curious they are... Some monkey owners say their monkey is like a family member, others talk about their children but they have all one thing in common: they love their monkeys so much that they will do the impossible for them!