Should Primates be Kept as Pets?

by tinacollins

Many of the smaller species of primates are, what could be classed, as cute, but would it be fair to have them as pets?

There are many people out there that already do have them as pets. They say that they are treated well and are happy. No one can deny that it is rather unusual to have a pet primate rather than the more conventional pets such as dogs and cats.

However, they are not classed as pets and should only be kept with other primates in their natural habitat.

What do you think?

A Licence isn't Required in the UK

Apparently, now in the UK, it is not required to have a licence to keep some species of primates. These include Capuchins, Squirrel Monkeys and Tamarins. Granted these are some of the smallest of the primates and you would think would be relatively easy to care for. But, does that make it a good idea?

These species do have very sharp teeth and extremely dexterous hands which effectively adds to the danger level. They are also highly intelligent as you would expect. I would prefer that these primates would need a licence to keep but be not allowed to be kept as pets by individuals.

Some species do require a special permit if they are used for commercial purposes.

Image thanks to Pixabay  

Should Primates be Kept as Pets?

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Why Primates Shouldn't be Pets

  • Primates require a lot of space in order to exercise, forage and to keep stimulated. They need a specialist diet according to their species and constant social interactions with members of their own kind.
  • It is all too easy to not provide the best care whatever the good intentions are and this can result in unhappy, unbalanced animals with sharp teeth and wit.
  • Small primates are not easy to care for despite what is reported. Our cultivated fruits often have a higher sugar content than what these small monkeys would eat in the wild. This can lead to health problems such as diabetes. If the monkey is kept indoors and has restricted time spent outside then deficiencies of vitamin D can occur.
  • Baby animals of any species are notoriously cute but this can all change as they grow up. The small monkeys often stay just as cute but their temperament and behaviour can change dramatically. Ignorance about these changes and how to deal with them can lead to isolation and neglect.
  • Transmission of Diseases including those passed on from us to them, of which they do not have immunity from.

What About the Cost?

A mori poll carried out in 2005 for the IFAW resulted in 79% agreeing that it should be illegal to keep monkeys as pets.

As long as the monkey is bred in captivity then it can be sold on privately.

There have been many cases of these monkeys being rescued from appalling conditions in private residence. 

A pair of Capuchins can cost between £6,500 and £13,000, £1300 for a marmoset, £2700 for a squirrel monkey. 

Not a decision to be made lightly!

Signs of Stress, Trauma and Neglect in Monkeys

Primates are often kept in cupboards or cages which are not suitable for them. This leads to behaviours such as pacing up and down, over-grooming, plucking out of fur and biting off their tails.

Signs of neglect are obvious and include weight issues, dehydration, boredom, health conditions due to poor feeding and anti-social behaviour. Dental problems, broken digits and blood disorders are also common.

Neglect in seeking treatment for medical conditions or injuries.

So, the thing to do would be to think again if you ever thought that keeping a primate as a pet would be a good idea!

Updated: 06/19/2013, tinacollins
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DerdriuMarriner 16 hours ago

Thank you!

My experience with stray sentients is that they live harmoniously with other sentients.

My Gusty (short for Augusta) -- before leaving outdoor for indoor life -- always left some food for other area sentients, such as an orphaned opossum and an orphaned rooster and other feline sentients.

So domesticated primates harmoniously with domesticated bird, cat and dog sentients seem a believable scenario.

(But should there be a hierarchy, who of domesticated primates versus domesticated traditionals would be the authority figure [the equivalent of top cat or top dog or top monkey ;-D])?

tinacollins 1 day ago

No, not as far as I know.

DerdriuMarriner on 12/09/2023

The summary statement asks "Many of the smaller species of primates are, what could be classed, as cute, but would it be fair to have them as pets?"

Is there any indication as to the impact of domesticating primate pets on the consequences for such traditional pets as bird, cat and dog sentients?

EliasZanetti on 06/21/2013

No matter how sweet and smart they are I believe, too, that they are not suitable to be kept as pets.

ajgodinho on 06/20/2013

I think , they belong in their natural habitat and should not be kept as pets.

jptanabe on 06/19/2013

I don't think primates make good pets. I actually worked with squirrel monkeys doing research on them, and they were pretty smart! We kept them in big cages and they were taken to a different room for various learning tests - that kept them amused, especially when they escaped, otherwise they'd have been bored and probably developed unhealthy habits.

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