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Marmosets

Marmoset monkeys are the most commonly kept and traded species of primate as pets. This is mainly common marmosets, but we also see Geoffroy’s marmosets and sometimes hybrids of the two. Baby marmosets, being so small, have been mis-sold as a pygmy marmoset or finger monkeys. They are being taken from their mothers far too early by breeders who convince buyers they can be tamed. These animals are destined for many problems later on in their lives.


Where do marmosets come from?

Marmosets are primarily found in the tropical rainforests of South America, with a few residual populations in Central America.


What do marmosets eat?

Marmosets mainly eat sap and gum from trees but they also eat the leaves, fruit, seeds and flowers. They may also eat insects, snails, lizards, frogs and baby birds.


Are marmosets good pets?

The lifespan of a marmoset can be up to 18 years. They are wild animals that have very specific welfare needs. It is impossible to provide an environment as complex and rich as the wild for a marmoset kept as a pet. They are tropical animals who require a warm climate.


Marmosets scent-mark their surroundings, so are unsuitable to be kept in a home. They are highly intelligent creatures who get easily bored, which can cause intense stress. In the wild, they create stable social groups, so to keep them alone is cruel and unnatural.


For these reasons, and more, we don’t consider marmoset monkeys to be suitable as pets.


Are marmosets legal to own in the UK?

It is unfortunately technically legal to own a marmoset in the UK, but we are campaigning against primates as pets and for the governments of England and Wales to change this.


Taken from the wild and kept as a pet

Mikey’s story  

Four month old marmoset Mikey © RSPCA

Mikey was just four months old when we rescued him. He was a victim of the pet trade. 


He was suffering from crippling metabolic bone disease (rickets) as his breeders had failed to care for him correctly. His condition was so bad that poor Mikey had difficulty walking on bent legs and was unable to climb. He could only scramble across the floor to get around.


A couple bred Mikey at their home in Stourbridge then sold him. They did not check if the buyer had any knowledge of caring for monkeys and handed him over in a hamster cage in a car park, assuring the new owner he was well.


But after seeing him move around Mikey’s new owner soon realised something was terribly wrong and contacted us for advice.


Mikey suffered both mentally and physically

Vets found Mikey hunched up, petrified and distressed. X-rays showed he had seven fractures throughout his tiny body.  Two areas of his tail were bent and he could only shuffle around.


The disease was in such an advanced stage and restricted his movement to such an extent, that a veterinary surgeon took the difficult decision to euthanise Mikey to end his severe suffering.


Another four adult common marmosets were removed from the breeders and rehomed at Monkey World in Dorset.


Mikey’s story isn’t unique. This is why we believe primates should not be kept as pets. Please show your support for animals like Mikey by signing our petition.

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