We humans have always felt a strong bond with animals. We first tamed wolves, and sort of contributed to the birth of dogs. Man, who was supposed to be in the wild, is now fixated with keeping exotic species of wild animals as pets. One such animal is the monkey. One of their species known as squirrel monkeys have become ‘the exotic’ pets that people want to keep. However, keeping them as pets can be quite a challenge.
Do Squirrel Monkeys Make Good Pets?
The canopy of the tropical forests of central and south America is the home of the squirrel monkeys. Their average size is about 25 to 35 cms with a tail of 35 to 42 cms. They are 750 to 1100 g in weight. Their coat is short and yellowish orange in color, their mouth is black, whereas their ears and throat are white in color. This characteristic has earned them the name of “death’s head monkey”. There are also species of black coat monkeys.
These monkeys are active during the day and rest at night. Their tails help them balance over trees and is not used for climbing. Apparently the female monkey has a pseudo penis to show dominance over smaller monkeys. Needless to say, they are free spirited animals meant for the wild, so keeping them as pets is a big challenge.
Squirrel monkeys live in troops ranging from 12 to 100. They are highly social animals, if you are considering to keep them as pets then it is best to either keep two or more or keep none. Monkeys are highly mischievous, keeping a pet monkey is like having a troubled teen at home. These pets are not suited for someone who has no previous experience with other intelligent pets. Monkeys are known to put a strain on family as they have their favorites. They tend to bully the youngest in the family, usually small children and are known to get aggressive and bite.
Squirrel monkeys eat both insects and fruits. They are known to get their water intake mainly from the food they eat, and from puddles and tree holes. They also eat small birds, tree frogs, spiders etc. In captivity they are fed on fruits and monkey chow. They are extremely picky about their food and are known to make a mess around their cage.
Caring for squirrel monkeys demands a lot of time and attention. One must be forgiving to keep them as pets. One has to understand that these animals were born to be in the wild. Keeping a squirrel monkey as pets and expecting it to conform to our social standards is foolish. These free spirited animals will behave much the same way as they do in the wild. In the family, they will identify the weakest and bully him, they will favor the head of the family. The monkey will spill and waste food, he will also excrete on various electronic equipment. He may also pull down the drapes and steal food and other things, which he will not return.
Personally, I feel that monkeys should be left alone in the wild. But if you must keep a squirrel monkey as a pet, then give it the attention it needs. If you feel that keeping a dog is more demanding, then think again as keeping a monkey as a pet is much more demanding and taxing.
In many places it is illegal to keep squirrel monkeys as pets. You may need to get a license made to keep one. Understand, that this is a life long commitment that you are making towards the animal. If you think that one day it will grow up and look after itself, that’s not going to happen. Your constant care and love will be needed. Many monkeys are given up as the owners can’t care for them. This can be highly traumatizing for the animal. As the animal is uprooted from its natural setting, and finds it difficult to later mingle with other monkeys at the animal care.
So keep a squirrel monkey as a pet after doing research. Speak to people who have had them as pets. Please don’t uproot the animal from its natural setting to only abandon it later.