How to Care for Pet Monkeys

Believe it or not, I actually do have experience in caring for a pet monkey. In 1994, my family adopted a baby female crab-eating macaque. We had picked her up from an airport in St. Louis, where my dad surprised me with our new pet. What little kid does not dream about owning his or her own monkey?! Aladdin was the popular Disney movie that had just come out, so I had named her Abu. 

Well, monkeys are a lot like raising children. First of all, they need constant supervision, attention, and freedom. The number one mistake we made was keeping Abu caged about 70% of the day. My dad worked long hours, and my sister and I had school and activities. There was no one home during the day to take her out of her cage to play with her, feed her, or change her diaper. Keeping Abu caged most of the day was a mistake for many reasons. When Abu was let out of her cage, she tore through the house like a wild animal. CDs were thrown everywhere and broken. Plus, she would take off her diaper and throw her feces at the wall. The only way to catch her was the keep a leash on her so you could step on it and stop her. 

One of the other reasons caging Abu for most of the day was a huge mistake was because it made her very aggressive and unhappy. Trying to get her back into her cage was a blood bath, literally. She would attack me whenever I would try to put her in her cage. I can’t even count the amount of times she would bite me whenever I would have to put her back in her cage. This in turn made me eventually not want to take her out of her cage. She also bit me a lot because I was nervous around her, which brings me to my next point.

In order to care for a monkey, you need to have a corrective personality and not be scared of the animal you are taking care of. I was 10-years old when we first adopted Abu, so the idea of hitting her and correcting her frightened me. Abu picked up on this insecurity quick and she became the dominant one in our relationship. If she didn’t want to have her diaper changed or be fed by me, all she had to do was bite me and I would back off. As a child, I went to school with a lot of bite marks all over my arms and my face. 

Another reason monkeys are a lot like raising children is because you have to diaper them, and if you have enough time, toilet train them. Diapering a monkey is very comical and somewhat complicated. I suggest getting the diapers ready ahead of time, since monkeys are a lot like toddlers and won’t stay still long enough for you to punch a hole in the diaper for the tail. In order to put the diaper on the monkey you have to get the animal on his/her back, put the back side of the diaper under, thread the tail through the hole you made with your scissors (or whatever you find most convenient), bring the front of the diaper up and close the diaper with the diaper tape. You then have to tape the top of the diaper around the monkey – be careful not to get the tape on the animal. This will prevent the monkey from taking his/her diaper off. In order to remove the diaper, you will have to cut the diaper off of the monkey. I suggest changing the monkey’s diaper as often as every four hours, longer for bed time. If you keep the diaper on the monkey for long periods of time, the animal’s posterior will become raw and the tail will start to form wounds where the diaper lays.

Feeding Abu was not a huge challenge. She did enjoy eating kiwis, bananas, and monkey food that you had to order online. To prepare the monkey food, I had to crush the nugget and add hot water to the mix. This mixture made a creamy-oatmeal like substance. It is not pleasant smelling, but Abu never minded. She enjoyed eating the meal from a bowl and baby spoon that I fed to her through the cage. We gave her water through a water bottle that you can buy for hamsters. We fed her two times a day with snacks in between feedings of kiwis and bananas.

Bathing Abu was also an enjoyable experience. Crab-eating macaques love the water. All I had to do was fill the bathtub with water and Abu was more than happy to jump in. To wash her, we used baby shampoo. She never minded getting shampooed because all she had to do was jump back in and swim under water to rinse off. It was fun watching her do laps in the bathtub. I recommend bathing the monkey at least once a week.

There are no hard, set rules to taking care of a monkey. Each monkey is different, and as you spend more time with your pet you will understand its needs and what works best for the both of you. Good luck!