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Do monkeys make good pets? Jessi breaks it down while Mimi the Marmoset shows off her climbing skills and demonstrates her ability to pee wherever she feels like it - see if you can spot the moment she lets it go.

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One of the things I love about Animal Wonders' online community is our ide age range.  We have four years old all the way up to 74 year olds watching, commenting, and asking questions.  I got this great question from one of our younger viewers.  His mom wrote: "My 6 year old loves Mimi.  He watched the video where you introduced Mimi and he had a question for you.  Why can't monkeys be a good pet?  I think it would be a lot of fun to have a monkey like Mimi.  I help take care of my dog, I would take good care of her and feed her every day and take her for walks like my dog."  From Tae'Veon, age 6.  

Hi Tae'Veon.  Thanks for watching the video and thanks for asking this question.  I'll do my best to answer it for you.


Mimi is a black-tufted marmoset and it's great to hear that you'd like to give her the best care, but the reason I say monkeys don't make good pets is because they aren't like most animals that humans keep as pets.  When I say the word 'pet', I think of a tame animal that lives their life as a companion for a human.  Dogs are a great example of a pet because when a human takes a dog into their life, there's an unspoken deal being made.  The human will take care of all the dog's needs and in return, the dog will give the human affection or protection or both.  

The same is true for other animals that are typically kept as pets, like cats, rats, parakeets, and rabbits.  The person enjoys the company of the pet and the pet enjoys the company of the person.  What makes an animal a good pet is when the human finds it relatively easy to provide the animal with everything they need to be happy and healthy, which can vary from person to person.  Dogs and cats are probably the easiest pets to take care of, because there are a lot of options to give them the best care possible.  You can easily buy dog or cat supplies and food in any city and they even sell dry kibble at gas stations.

Dogs and cats have been domesticated, which means that they have evolved over thousands of years to be easily tamed and they are comfortable living around humans, in our homes and towns.  It's also easy to find veterinarians for dogs and cats in any city, and their medical procedures are well-studied and commonly practiced.  If we look at a monkey in the same way, we can see that they don't fit into the same category as dogs and cats, or even rats, rabbits, or parrots.  Monkeys are not domesticated, so they are very nervous around humans.  Even if they learn to trust one or a couple humans, they are still quite uncomfortable in human society.

Think of some of your favorite things to do with your dog.  Do you like petting them, playing with a ball or toy, going on walks and runs or cuddling on the couch with them?  Well, because monkeys aren't very comfortable around humans, they could be nervous, stressed, and defensive if we tried playing with them like we do with a dog, and when they get stressed out, monkeys can show it by biting or scratching people, which is dangerous.  For this reason, they are illegal to own in most places.

If you tried to have a monkey as a pet, you couldn't just have them living in your home like you would a dog or a cat.  You'd need to set up a place for them to live and be safe from things that are stressful or dangerous to them, like a hot stove or an open window if it's cold outside.  You'll need a large amount of space with plenty of toys and branches that are changed all the time.  Monkeys need lots of ways to explore and play every day, but they can't go for walks like a dog, so if you have a  monkey as a pet, they would need many hours of your time in their own space, which means you wouldn't have time to do things like go to school, play with your human friends, or go on vacations with your family.

Another thing that makes monkeys hard to care for is that they can get sick with some of the same things that humans do, so if you get sick, you'll need to make sure you don't spread any sick germs to them.  Even if you got a simple cold, you couldn't play with a monkey, and you'd need to wear gloves and a mask when feeding and cleaning them.  If your monkey does get sick, it's hard to find a veterinarian that knows how to help them get better.  Vets who know the correct medical procedures for dogs and cats don't know how to care for monkeys, so you can't just bring them to your local vet.  It has to be a specialist.

Think of how easy it is to find good food for your dog.  It's not the same with a monkey.  It's hard to find food and supplies that are made for monkeys, so you need to have lots of time and knowledge on how to make them yourself.  It's also a lot more expensive, and when an animal eats, that also means they have to poop.  

You know how cats use a litter box when they have to go to the bathroom and dogs usually pee and poop outside in the yard or on a walk?  Well, monkeys go to the bathroom wherever and whenever they feel like it.  Sometimes they pee on their branches.  Sometimes they pee on their toys, and if they're on you, sometimes they'll pee on you and monkey pee smells really, really bad, so you'll need to clean the space your monkey lives in really well every day or two, and what you'll be scrubbing off the walls, floors, and toys is their pee and poop and any mess they make with their food and toys.

So giving a monkey a good home is hard, a lot harder than caring for a dog, and we haven't even talked about how to make the monkey happy.  Monkeys like to be around other monkeys.  To be their happiest, they need a lot of social interaction, which is best when it comes from others of their same species, so it's best for monkeys to live with other monkeys, which means you'll want to have the space and food available for two or more.

The reason Mimi lives alone and not with another monkey is because someone wanted to have her as a pet.  Years later, when they tried to have her be with other monkeys, she didn't get along with them and she ended up getting picked on so bad that she had to  be separated.  This can happen when monkeys are raised by humans instead of their own mothers.  When they grow up, they don't know how to play and communicate with other monkeys, which is really sad.

I'd love if Mimi had a monkey friend, but it's not safe for her, and because Mimi doesn't have other monkeys to play with, it means that we need to spend even more time making sure she doesn't get lonely or bored or stressed out and that's a really big job.  A good pet should be fun to be around and easy to care for.  They should fit nicely into your life so you can just relax and enjoy your time with them.

When I say an animal doesn't make a good pet, it means their care is much harder than most people would find enjoyable.  Now, some people like caring for animals that are hard to provide for, so some people have animals like lizards, macaws, and other exotic animals as pets.  It's not wrong for people to have animals that are hard to care for, but most people don't know just how hard it's going to be, so they don't give them what they need to be happy and that's why I say monkeys don't make good pets.  It's just too hard for most people to give them everything that they need to be happy because sometimes what makes a monkey happy doesn't make the person happy, like scrubbing pee off the wall or washing poop out of your hair.

I hope that helps you understand why I say a certain animal doesn't make a good pet.  Keep asking questions, Tae'Veon and keep learning new things and thank you, everyone else, for all of your questions, comments, and support.  I love how we have viewers of all ages and I hope you do too.  

If you'd like to go on an adventure with us every week, subscribe to our YouTube channel, AnimalWondersMontana.  Thanks, and we'll see you next week.