Primates as pets
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.
Worried about a primate being sold or kept? Call us on 0300 1234 999.
'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.
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
- Current regulations don’t adequately protect pet primates; the only way to do this is to ban their keeping and trade.
- Primates are covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
- In England, Defra have produced a Code of Practice for Privately Kept Primates but awareness of this is low.
- Most species require a Dangerous Wild Animal licence, but not the most commonly kept like marmosets and tamarins.
- It's unfortunately legal to sell a primate, but paperwork is needed for some species.
- Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it's an offence to release a primate into the wild, or to allow it to escape.
Can the RSPCA rehome my primate?
We don't have the facilities to rehome primates. For advice contact: