Owning a monkey isn’t cheap. In fact, it can cost anywhere between $1,500 to as high as $50,000 depending on the breeds just for the initial purchase of one. There are also other expenses every potential monkey pet owner needs to consider.
These include the habitat or enclosure, health care, as well as daily necessities your new pet will need.
All of these will affect the overall cost or expenses you’ll shell out over time. To help you navigate through this, I’ve compiled a helpful guide for you to have an idea of how much you’ll need to shell out when you get your own pet monkey.
Is It Legal to Keep a Monkey as a Pet?
The short answer? It depends.
Owning a monkey is legal in some places, while others will require owners to get a permit because they’re considered exotic pets. Meanwhile, certain countries and places in the United States have strict laws banning the ownership and keeping of a pet monkey by private individuals.
If you live in the US, as of 2012, 17 states have no restriction when it comes to keeping monkeys as pets. But more activists and pro-animal rights groups are working on having legislation enacted to ban private monkey ownership in these states.
For now, the states with no restrictions are as follows:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
- Washington State
- North Dakota
Meanwhile, states with a total ban on private monkey ownership include the following:
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
- New York
- New Mexico
- New Jersey
Other states only have partial bans in place. These states don’t prohibit private monkey ownership but potential owners need to acquire strict permits and comply with existing laws. These states are:
- South Dakota
For states not mentioned, usually local state laws apply so make sure to check with your local government.
Globally, monkeys are protected under the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), but countries across the world have their own legislation whether they allow private monkey ownership or not.
In the UK, for instance, it’s legal to own a monkey as long as you have a license. This is also true for Spain as long as there are legal provenance and papers. Chile and Australia are among the countries that prohibit private ownership of monkeys as pets.
Your best bet is to do thorough research in your local area about whether owning a monkey is allowed. This will also give you time to comply with any existing papers if permits are required.
Most Common Types of Monkeys to Keep as Pets and Their Estimated Prices
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the most popular types of monkeys kept as pets. Not all monkeys are equal; in fact, there’s a small group of monkeys often favored by exotic pet lovers to become pets. You’ll find them below.
I’ve also listed down their estimated prices from a breeder to give you an idea of how much initial cost you need to shell out for a particular breed. Remember, these are only initial prices. Other costs to consider will be listed in the next section.
Price: Between $5,000 and $7,000
Known for its tiny size and characteristic two-tone coat, the Capuchin is one monkey breed that’s popular among private pet monkey owners. It’s small, agile, intelligent, and can be territorial.
Capuchin’s reach a length of 12 to 22 inches and have tails that are almost as long as their bodies. They have a mischievous nature and can live a long life under captivity. So, make sure you are prepared to keep them for the long haul if you decide to go with this breed.
Price: Starts at $6,000 – $14,000
Usually found in the tropical forests of Central and South America, Spider Monkeys are a favorite pet for monkey lovers because of their long limbs and prehensile tails, which can grow up to 35 inches in length.
Their tails allow them to move around with ease. In the wild, they can live for up to 20 to 25 years but this can be shorter since they are usually hunted as food. In captivity though, spider monkeys can live for up to 35 years.
Price: Between $4,000 and $8,000
Coming from Asia, Macaques are considered “Old World Monkeys.” Macaques can grow anywhere between 16 to 28 inches and weigh about 5.3 lbs. They can live up to 25 years in captivity or longer.
They are a favorite pet for monkey lovers because they are tiny, giving the impression they are manageable. However, macaques, despite their small size, require large enclosures because they tend to move around a lot.
It’s also worth noting this monkey is strong and has the tendency to become aggressive even overplay, which can be too much to handle for some owners.
Price: Between $1,500 and $2,500
Pygmy marmosets are better known as finger monkeys in the pet monkey world. They are small, cute and tapped by many as a favorite potential pet. Marmosets hail from Central America, mainly spending their lives in the upper canopy of forests while eating sap and gum.
They grow between 4 and 6 inches with a tail that’s equally long. Adults weigh only 3.5 oz., so you can imagine how small and lightweight these monkeys are. Marmosets, when cared for properly, can live up to 18 years.
They are intelligent creatures that require a lot of socialization and interaction so it’s best to keep them together with other marmosets because they don’t function well when left alone for long periods.
Price: Starts at $9,000
There are five species of squirrel monkeys, and like most monkeys, they require a lot of care and attention. They can grow from 9.8 to 13.8 inches long with an additional 14 to 17 inches for the tail. They can live up to 20 years in captivity but only survive up to 15 years in the wild.
Price: Between $1,500 and $2,500
Tamarins are small, “squirrel-sized monkeys” coming from both Central and South America. They grow to a size of 5 to 11 inches and have a long tail, measuring 9 to 17 inches.
While they might be similar in size to Marmosets, Tamarins differ in that they have longer lower canine teeth. They come in different colors with a distinct mustache. In captivity, they have been known to live up to 18 years.
Price: Starts at $3,500
Baboons seem like the most unusual when it comes to pet monkeys, but there are exotic pet owners who prefer them over other breeds. All five Baboon species come from Africa.
The largest species is the Chacma which grows up to 47 inches. The smallest is the Kinda Baboon, which can grow up to 20 inches tall.
Baboons have a characteristic, dog-like muzzle and hairless pads of skin that protrude from their backside. In the wild, they can live up to 20 years but in captivity, up to 45 years.
Price: Starts at $4,500 to $10,000 depending on the species
Guenons are Old World Monkeys from Africa. There’s over 20 species of Guenons but three of the most popular kept as pets are the African Green Monkey, the Grivet and Vervet species.
Their price varies depending on the species. Baby Grivet Monkeys can sell for $4,500 and up while unique species like the De Brazza’s Monkeys are sold for as much as $10,000 or more. These monkeys can live up to 25 years in captivity.
Price: Starting at $50,000 – $60,000
Although most would discourage potential pet monkey owners from owning larger primates like a Chimpanzee, it’s still no surprise that so many are fascinated with them. The late Michael Jackson famously had Bubbles, his pet Chimpanzee.
Adult chimps can stand up to 150 cm or about 4 feet and 11 inches and can weigh as much as 155 pounds. There are cases where chimps have grown bigger than this in captivity.
Chimps in captivity can live up to 30 years or longer, depending on their state. In the wild, they are known to live up to 15 to 20 years.
While they do have humanlike behavior, potential owners should understand they are large and twice as strong as humans. Males, like all primates, have a tendency to become aggressive once they enter adulthood.
Quick Legal Note in Bringing Monkeys Into or Outside the United States
It has been illegal to import monkeys to the United States as pets since 1975, thanks to the Federal Quarantine Regulations. Be wary of buying them overseas for cheaper in the hopes you would be able to bring them here to the US.
Also, if you already have a pet monkey, you cannot travel outside the country with them because they won’t be allowed back into the country when you return.
Initial Cost of Keeping a Monkey
When you buy a monkey, you need to be prepared to pay anywhere from $1,500 to up to $50,000 depending on the breed of monkey you want or whether you want a baby or an adult.
The “cheapest” on the range is a Marmoset whose prices start at $1,500 and higher. You can view the estimated prices per breed in the section above.
Apart from this initial cost, you need to take into account the additional costs like housing, food, and more. As mentioned, this amount can vary greatly depending on the type of monkey you get.
Additional Costs of Keeping a Monkey
Estimated Cost: Between $25 and $35 weekly.
Most monkeys only require fruits and vegetables, and sometimes small insects or treat to keep them healthy and happy. You can give them oranges, grapes, apples, pears, cantaloupe, banana, potatoes, corn, or broccoli.
Some will eat insects like crickets, mealworms, and wax worms. There are breeds who would eat unsalted nuts as well as lizards. If you have a marmoset, they require a different diet from other monkeys.
Weekly, this should amount to $25 – $35. There is also monkey chow, similar to dog food, available for purchase.
Habitat and Cages
Estimated Cost: Between $600 to $3,500 (Custom enclosures and habitats will be more expensive.)
Ready-made monkey cages and enclosures are available for you to purchase. Indoor cages have prices starting at $600 to $900 depending on how big it is as well as the quality. If you prefer an outdoor enclosure, expect to pay anywhere from $1,600 to $3,500.
There are custom-made enclosures available as well depending on the monkey’s size and needs. These will be more expensive.
Material Care (Diapers, Toys, Swings, Ropes, etc.)
Estimated Cost: $150 to $250 for the basics.
Of course, it’s not enough to buy your monkey a cage or enclosure. You also need to buy accessories and other important things to make sure they’re comfortable inside.
This would include a nesting box, ropes, swings, blankets, even toys. The amount for this would depend on how much you would be willing to spend.
Some of these are necessities like the nesting box, blankets, and ropes (for them to climb on). The rest, like toys, aren’t crucial but would help entertain your pet. Thus, the cost can vary greatly starting at $100 and up.
Another cost you need to take into account is diapers. Most monkey pet owners prefer to use diapers on their monkeys because they are difficult to house train. Buying a 3-month supply can set you back up to $65.
Check out the video below of Capuchin Monkeys, Gracie and Ava playing with their toys:
Estimated Cost: Routine checkups at $50 – $200. For serious issues or surgery, it starts at $500 – $2,000 upwards. Also depends on the area you are located in.
Prices for vet care for an exotic pet like a monkey can vary greatly, depending on what kind of care the animal needs. Expect to pay around $350 for initial vaccines and tests.
For regular checkups, it can be anywhere between $50 and $200 depending on the veterinarian or location. It can climb fast for serious problems or anything requiring surgery, starting at $500 to $2,000 or more.
Time Commitment & Responsibilities
Estimated Cost: For as long as the animal is in your care.
While this isn’t counted as a financial cost, the time commitment and responsibilities required are definitely worth including in your decision to own a pet monkey.
For one, monkeys tend to live long, between 15 and 40 years. It means owners will have to make a careful and long-time commitment to caring for them.
Monkeys are high maintenance animals and will be a lot like taking care of a toddler full time.
So it’s important for your welfare and especially for the monkey that potential owners understand it will be a huge responsibility and commitment on their part once they take on a pet monkey.
Common Questions About Keeping Monkeys as Pets
Are Pet Monkeys Dangerous?
Monkeys are wild animals and while initially they may be cute and cuddly, especially as babies, they will have a different behavior once they reach sexual maturity. This means they can become aggressive towards other monkeys and to their owners.
What’s more, some monkey species carry deadly diseases like the herpes B virus which can be passed on to humans via a scratch or a bite. Research and read up on the particular breed you want to get and see if you are willing to accept whatever risks are involved if any.
What’s the Cheapest Monkey Breed for a Pet?
As you can see, owning and taking care of a monkey can get pricey fast. But as far as the lowest price for the initial purchase of a monkey, it would have to be a Marmoset or finger monkeys. Getting them from a reliable breeder will set you back around $1,500 to $2,000 to start.
Is It Possible to Get a Pet Monkey for Free?
The answer would be no. However, there are organizations like Monkey Helpers that provide trained Capuchin monkeys free of charge to individuals who have suffered spinal cord injuries or have mobility issues.
It’s a unique program but only available to select individuals and after a thorough assessment by the organization.
Places to Find a Baby Pet Monkey for Sale
It’s always recommended that you buy your pet monkey straight from a reliable breeder instead of an exotic pet shop or broker. This way, you know exactly the monkey’s history.
Make sure to go with a breeder that is USDA licensed if you’re buying from the United States. Also, research an equivalent qualification if you live outside the country. Here are a few places you can check out:
- Primate Store – They sometimes list various monkey breeds for sale from qualified breeders. What’s more, they also offer additional information on taking care of a monkey, from the diet, housing, the type of treats, and more.
- Poggi’s Animal House – They specialize in marmosets or finger monkeys and are certified by the USDA. They also provide information on how to care for marmosets and more.
- Marmoset Monkeys FL – They specialize in marmoset monkeys as well. They also provide in-depth information on caring for marmoset as well as provide a reference to other items you might need as a new monkey pet owner.
- Monkeys ‘R Us – They specialize in marmoset as well as Tamarin Monkeys. They also offer other supplies you might need as a new monkey pet owner including additional information on how to care for your new pet.
Having a pet monkey can be costly. The initial price of purchasing your pet alone can run you between $1,500 to $50,000 depending on the monkey breed you go for.
There are also other needs like building their habitat, providing for their food, and anything else they require over their lifetime. This can easily add up to several thousand over time. It really is both an emotional and financial commitment to have a monkey as a pet.
If you are prepared for the commitment and have the means to care for and purchase one, then having a pet monkey could be a rewarding experience.
Monkeys and primates will amaze and entertain you. They are a lot like us humans. They can sense emotions and will try and comfort you when you are hurting. They are also protective of their owners, sometimes without thinking of the cost to themselves.
When you’re ready and willing to commit to a pet monkey, it will be one of the most challenging yet most fulfilling ones you’ll experience in your life.
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.