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Primates as pets

We're against keeping primates as pets. They're highly intelligent animals with complex needs that can't be met in a home environment.

Our new report 'Do You Give a Monkey's? (PDF 1.08MB)' highlights the growing problem for primates such as marmosets, capuchins and squirrel monkeys, who are suffering in these unnatural conditions.

We're calling for a ban on the keeping and trade of primates as pets, read more about our campaign and please help by taking action now.

Worried about a primate being sold or kept? Call us on 0300 1234 999.

Our concerns


Four month old marmoset Mikey © RSPCA

'Pet primate' species can live up to 46 years and are a life-long commitment. As they mature they can also become aggressive.


A primate needs complex, specially-designed accommodation. A common problem is primates kept indoors, in inappropriate conditions or small, cramped cages which can lead to abnormal behaviour and self-harm.


Metabolic bone disease is a common health problem caused by poor diet and lack of UV light. A sad example of this is Mikey.

Inappropriate diets are common and lead to nutritional disease and deficiencies.

X-ray of Mikey common marmoset with metabolic bone disease © RSPCA


A specialist vet with knowledge of primates may be far away and expensive. Primates can spread disease to humans and vice versa, like measles and herpes. 

The right company

People wrongly assume that hand-rearing makes a primate ‘tame’. Primates must be reared by their mother – removing them too early causes extreme suffering.

Keeping a primates alone is unacceptable, as they are very social animals. Human company is not a replacement for another primate.

Guidance and legislation

Can the RSPCA rehome my primate?

We don't have the facilities to rehome primates. For advice contact:

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