The Truth Behind Pet Monkeys
There are few creatures more adorable and endearing as the hairy primate family of monkeys; however, when kept as a pet, monkeys can be more trouble than, well, a barrelful of monkeys. In fact, many states in the United States forbid the keeping of monkeys as pets.
The likely attraction people have towards monkeys is their close relationship to humans. Baby like in appearance and actions, the nurturing instinct kicks in when we gaze upon those large, innocent brown eyes and the humble little movements a monkey makes. This engaging personality tugs at the heartstrings of many who may be seeking a surrogate for a child, or who erroneously believe through media presentations that these creatures are continually mild, cute and cuddly. From these same depictions in television shows and movies, monkeys are exhibited as perfect pets; capable of being dressed as humans, enjoying human activities and eating like humans. Through all of this, it seems that people are losing sight of the one most important fact: monkeys are creatures of the wild, and while they can be dressed as humans, eat like humans and play like humans, they will never actually be humans.
Anyone who is contemplating keeping pet monkeys should first do extensive research on the type of monkey they are considering, as well as on the general characteristics of the creature. There are numerous testimonials given by individuals who have previously had the same belief; that monkeys would make a great and fun pet. Each of these people now attests to the fact, with abundant wounds and scars to back it up that nothing could be further from the truth.
Popular Monkeys Kept as Pets
Most monkeys are regarding as delightful creatures, but certain types are more often sought out as pet material.
Spider monkeys are thought to be one of the most popular of all small monkeys. The natural habitat of the spider monkey is tropical rain forests, where they congregate in the top canopy of the trees. These areas are diminishing quickly through deforestation, resulting in an endangered status for some of the species. Very sociable, the spider monkeys live in communities of anywhere between 6 and 50 monkeys; living around 25 years in the wild. Their diets are varied, with seeds, fruits, nuts and insects making up the bulk of their meals. When captured, spider monkeys are kept in tiny cages, fed inappropriate diets and treated inhumanely. After all, their interest in the creatures is a profit, not to be compassionate. Keeping a spider monkey as a pet means separating a young monkey from its mother and kin, a special relationship that is necessary to the development of the monkey.
Squirrel monkeys are another small breed that is extremely captivating, making it another favorite to be kept as a pet. These creatures are found in rainforests of Bolivia, Surinam, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, Columbia, French Guiana and Venezuela. While spider monkeys occupy the top canopies, squirrel monkeys are found predominately in the middle canopy, where dense vegetation provides protection from birds of prey. They will travel either up to the top canopy or down to the ground. Diets for these agile primates consist of berry like fruits, small invertebrates such as tree frogs; although they are also known to feed upon bird eggs, insects, flowers, leaves and nuts. The squirrel monkey is also a socially dependent creature; females especially tend to bond as they help each other care for the young. They travel within groups of up to 500 strong. Squirrel monkeys kept as pets may seem cute, but it is hard for this creature to adapt to living within a human household, away from its needed social network of other spider monkeys.
Another member of the small monkey primate family proving to be popular as pet monkeys is capuchins. They are considered to be the most intelligent of the New World monkey family, and used extensively for laboratory research. Several types of capuchins exist; white headed, tufted, brown and golden bellied are just a few examples. As with the other small monkey types, capuchins are very socially integrated; with groups of around 30 monkeys common. They are known to feed upon insects, nuts, seeds, bird eggs and small invertebrates. Mutual grooming and continual vocalization is an important aspect of their community. Being singled out as a pet removes a capuchin from its supportive network. (continued...)