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Keeping primates as pets

Primates are very intelligent, social, wild animals with complicated needs that can't be met in a home environment. This is why we're calling for a ban on buying, selling and keeping primates as pets.

marmoset balanced on perch in animal enclosure © RSPCA

Here's why primates shouldn't be kept as pets

Some species of primate can live for 20-40 years, making them a serious long-term commitment.

Here are some more reasons why primates don't make good pets.

  • They're potentially dangerous - while they might look cute, they can become aggressive when they mature and have been known to bite and attack their owners.
  • Not suitable house pets - primates need space, companions and mental stimulation - not what you find in someone's living room. Monkeys like marmosets also scent mark extensively, spreading their musky smell everywhere.
  • They need a specialist diet - metabolic bone disease (rickets) is a common, debilitating and painful, health problem in pet primates, and it's caused by poor diet and lack of UV light. Whatever a breeder may tell you, primates need specialised diets.
  • Health problems - primates need specialist vets, which can be expensive and hard to find. Primates can also spread disease to humans, such as measles and herpes.
  • They need companionship - and primates must be reared by their mothers, as removing them too early in an attempt to 'tame' them causes extreme suffering.
  • Primates need to be socialised with other primates - primates are highly social animals, and keeping them alone is inhumane. Human company is in no way a replacement for living with other compatible primates of their own kind.

To find out more about why we're calling for a ban on keeping primates as pets, read our Do You Give a Monkey's? report.

Concerned about the welfare of a primate or want to report cruelty?

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