How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Monkey in the USA?

Having a monkey as a pet can be both exciting and rewarding. It can be stressful and challenging, too, since the needs of a monkey are entirely different from the needs of a dog, rabbit, goldfish, or any other common pet. It is legal to keep a monkey as a pet in some states alright, but how much does it cost to adopt a monkey?

On average, adopting a monkey can cost anywhere from as low as $1,000 to as high as $14,000. The cost depends on factors such as the monkey’s breed, origin, rarity, gender, and age. Besides the animal’s sticker price, one will also have to spend money on food, enclosure, veterinary care and other essentials.

Welcoming a monkey into your home is nothing like turning a cat or an iguana into a member of your family. One of the first few big hurdles you will have to overcome is shelling out enough cash to buy a monkey.

Taking care of a monkey doesn’t come cheap. Just take a look at this table:

Capuchins$5,000 to $7,000
Macaques$4,000 to $8,000
Marmosets$1,500 to $2,500
Pygmy marmosets$1,000 to $4,000
Guenons$4,500 to $10,000
Spider monkeys$6,000 to $14,000
Squirrel monkeys$4,000 to $9,000
Baboons$3,000 to $3,500
Tamarins$1,500 to $2,500
Costs of adopting monkeys for various species

The cost of taking care of a monkey doesn’t begin and end with getting your hands on one. Monkeys can live anywhere from five to 30 years.

Some of them can live for up to 50 long years! It’s because of this why you will have to keep on spending money for as long as the monkey is with you.

One of the primary expenses associated with adopting a monkey is providing it with an enclosure, which has to be at least 20 to 30 square feet in size. Even a tiny monkey, like a marmoset, will require a large enclosure.

Then there are also things such as supplies, special diets, trips to the vets and maintenance.

But before you worry about all these things, you will have to deal with one very important matter: determining whether or not it’s legal for you to buy and own a monkey. The goal should be to make a difference in the life of a monkey without you paying an exorbitant fine and ending up in jail.

And this takes us to this pressing question…

Can you buy a monkey in the US?

It is possible to buy a monkey in the US. Where it’s allowed, buying a monkey can be as easy as buying any other pet. However, not all states allow monkeys to be kept as pets. And even if a state allows owning a monkey, a local county or city may ban or prohibit the animal within its premises.

Provided that you have the money and the state you live in permits ownership of a monkey, getting your hands on a monkey and keeping it as a pet should be trouble-free.

But it doesn’t mean, however, that having one in your home will be easy. Most monkeys require constant care and attention.

pet monkey
Image credit: Canva

As a matter of fact, some monkey owners confirm that taking care of monkeys is like taking care of toddlers that never grow up. Needless to say, the challenge of adopting a monkey extends beyond costs and legality.

Speaking of which, let’s answer this critical question…

In what states is it legal to have a pet monkey?

It is legal to have a pet monkey in 17 states. They are Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington State, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Some states have a partial monkey ban only.

Licenses and permits are no longer needed when adopting a monkey in the states mentioned above. A monkey may be bought in some states, but you will have to get permits and comply with strict laws.

These states are:

  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Michigan
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota

The following are the states where owning a monkey is totally banned:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Wyoming

For states that were not mentioned, various local laws on keeping monkeys as pets apply.

Just because the state you live in completely or partially allows its residents to own monkeys doesn’t mean that you should buy any monkey that you can find or afford. Not all monkeys make for excellent pets.

Read on to know which species of monkeys are commonly kept as pets by exotic animal lovers.

9 Best Monkey Species for Pets

There are approximately 260 species of monkeys on the planet.

Around 138 of them are Old World monkeys, which are native to Asia and Africa, although fossil records show that they used to be present in Europe, too. On the other hand, around 122 species are New World monkeys, which are native to the Americas.

However, only a handful of monkeys can be bought and turned into pets.

If you are planning to keep a monkey as a pet, there is no need to check out every single one of the nearly 300 species of monkeys around, which makes the selection process so much easier.

The following are some of the best monkeys for pets:


Image credit: Canva

Also known as ring-tail monkeys, capuchins are intelligent monkeys. They can be energetic, too, forcing their owners to embrace a more active lifestyle to provide their furry fellows with enough stimulation.

Baby capuchins are very adorable and portable creatures, just like human babies. It can also be easy to take care of them.

For instance, they don’t mind wearing diapers. Adult capuchins, on the other hand, hate wearing diapers. And when they are bored or annoyed, they might start hurling their poop at people.

It can be extremely challenging to keep adult capuchins indoors, mainly because of their high energy levels. Because of this, having an outdoor enclosure that mimics their natural habitat and with a heated cage is highly recommended.

Here are some fast capuchin facts:

  • They can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000.
  • They are 12 to 22 inches long.
  • They weigh three to nine pounds only because of their small size.
  • They can live for 15 to 25 years, though some in captivity can live up to 50 years.
  • They are named after tiny Spanish Capuchin monks wearing dark-brown robes.
  • They are considered the most intelligent of all New World monkeys.
  • They have a varied diet, ranging from nectar to small birds — some eat shellfish, too.


There are over 22 macaque species. Two of the most commonly used for testing and researching are the rhesus macaque and cynomolgus macaque. They are also the ones that are usually kept as pets.

It’s true that macaques are not very big monkeys.

Despite this, they can be very strong. This means that you should work out and build some muscles if you plan to keep a macaque as a pet — or you can get your daily dose of exercise when you already own one because of all the lifting, carrying, and running after.

One of the nicest things about macaques is that they can be accustomed to interacting with humans and are very friendly.

However, when threatened or harmed, macaques can easily go from approachable to aggressive.

Here are some fast macaque facts:

  • They can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000 — females cost more than males.
  • They are 16 to 28 inches long.
  • They weigh seven pounds to 20 pounds, depending on the species.
  • They can live for less than 15 years in the wild and up to 40 years in captivity.
  • They are good swimmers — the majority of monkeys cannot swim.
  • They have pouches in their cheeks in which they can store extra food.
  • They can live in more climates and habitats than other primates, except humans.


If you want a pet monkey that you can easily take anywhere, look no further than a marmoset. That’s because marmosets are considered the smallest monkeys around. What’s more, they tip the scale at less than a pound!

Many people who would like to adopt monkeys opt for marmosets because they are social animals.

But it’s of utmost importance to give marmosets plenty of time and attention. Otherwise, if they feel that they are neglected, marmosets will throw a tantrum and vocalize and scream.

Although highly intelligent, marmosets can get bored rather easily. They also like to mark their territory with their scent, which is why they should be kept where there’s proper ventilation.

Here are some fast marmoset facts:

  • They can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 only.
  • They are 18.5 to 21 inches long.
  • They weigh around half a pound.
  • They can live for five to seven years only — some live for a maximum of 16 years.
  • They have very long tails, about twice the length of their bodies.
  • They are the smallest and most primitive of all monkey species.
  • They have hands and feet that resemble those of squirrels — they can behave like squirrels, too.

Pygmy marmosets

One of the reasons why marmosets are commonly kept as pets is that they are small. As a matter of fact, as mentioned earlier, they are the smallest species of monkeys known to man.

However, there are even smaller marmosets: pygmy marmosets. But just because they are smaller than marmosets doesn’t mean right away that they are easier to take care of.

For instance, young ones require feeding every two hours or so. Failure to provide them with plenty of love and attention can cause them to attack their owners.

While cute and trouble-free to keep indoors, pygmy marmosets can be hard to acquire. This is why many who would like to take care of monkeys opt for other species instead.

Here are some fast pygmy marmoset facts:

  • They can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000.
  • They are five to six inches long only.
  • They weigh only three and a half ounces (100 grams).
  • They can live for 11 to 12 years — in captivity, they can live for up to 18 years.
  • They are so small that they can fit into a human palm without trouble.
  • They are smaller than a human thumb as infants.
  • They possess enough differences to be considered separate from the marmoset family of monkeys.


Also called Wolf’s mona monkeys or Wolf’s guenon monkeys, guenons are some of the most colorful and graceful Old World monkeys. It’s because of this why many monkey lovers are attracted to them.

It’s true that guenons are social animals, which means that they make for some wonderful pets.

However, it’s a good idea for any guenon owners to have at least two guenons. This is to allow them to be able to socialize with their own kind. Young guenons are especially gentle and trusting, although they can be hostile when grown and mistreated.

Guenons love to run, jump, climb and play a lot. Because of this, they should be kept in an enclosure large enough to accommodate their being highly active. The enclosure should also mirror their natural habitat.

Here are some fast guenon facts:

  • They can cost anywhere from $4,500 to $10,000.
  • They are 44.5 to 52 inches long.
  • They weigh five pounds to nine pounds, depending on age and gender.
  • They can live for 20 to 25 years.
  • They have very long tails — the average length of their tails is 31 inches.
  • They have blue scrotums.
  • They come in almost two dozen species — the most popular pet species are grivet, vervet and green monkey.

Spider monkeys

spider monkey
Image credit: Canva

They are called spider monkeys because of their long and skinny limbs. Having long arms and legs is a telltale sign that they love climbing and swinging from tree to tree, which is why they need to have a large outdoor enclosure.

Speaking of which, spider monkeys prefer a tall enclosure to a wide one. It’s because, in the wild, they rarely come to the ground — providing them with plenty of horizontal space is pretty much pointless. Up to 90% of their diet consists of fruits and seeds.

However, they will also eat leaves, flowers, honey and even decaying wood.

If you plan to keep a spider monkey as a pet, make sure that you can devote plenty of your time to it. That’s because it can turn aggressive if it feels like it’s not getting enough of its owner’s attention.

Here are some fast spider monkey facts:

  • They can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $14,000.
  • They are up to two feet long — they are some of the largest New World monkeys.
  • They weigh 20 pounds to 24 pounds.
  • They can live for 20 to 25 years in the wild — up to 35 years in captivity.
  • They are the third smartest non-human primates on the planet, according to a study.
  • They poop after waking up and before going to bed.
  • They have prehensile tails that they can use for gripping as they swing from branch to branch.

Squirrel monkeys

They live in trees and spend most of their waking hours hopping from one tree branch to the other — this is why squirrel monkeys are called that way.

Of all the various monkey species that can be kept as pets, squirrel monkeys are some of the easiest to take care of.

That’s because they are diurnal creatures, which means that they sleep at night and are active during the day. Also helping to make them excellent pets is the fact that they are small and lightweight.

However, there is something that anyone who is thinking about adopting squirrel monkeys should know: these furry fellows are fond of spreading their pee on their hands and feet to mark their path when moving from point A to point B.

Here are some fast squirrel monkey facts:

  • They cost anywhere from $4,000 to $9,000.
  • They are 24 to 31 inches long.
  • They weigh one pound to two and a half pounds.
  • They can live for 15 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.
  • They are smart — of all monkeys, they have the largest brain to body mass ratio.
  • They have long tails that they cannot use for grasping, although they can use them to balance.
  • They are highly vocal animals — they have 23 to 30 different types of calls.


Many exotic pet owners prefer baboons over other monkey species. One of the reasons for this is that they are the subjects of mythology, religion and folklore where they are native to.

Baboons are sociable creatures, and they exhibit a number of behavioral traits similar to humans. As a matter of fact, they love following a daily routine.

Baboons can also get along with dogs — they will play with them and even groom them! It’s due to this why baboons make for some wonderful pet monkeys.

The problem with baboons is that they can be very noisy. And when agitated, they will use intimidating vocalizations and pair them with scary gestures, too, although they will do it to avoid confrontations.

Here are some fast baboon facts:

  • They cost anywhere from $3,000 to $3,500.
  • They are 36 to 65 inches long.
  • They weigh 33 pounds to 82 pounds.
  • They can live for 20 to 30 years — as long as 45 years in captivity.
  • They are primarily vegetarians, although they will also eat insects, small mammals and even fish.
  • They are the largest of the monkey species — males are up to two times larger than females.


When trained and socialized very well, tamarins can be affectionate and friendly pets. However, it’s a must to give them plenty of attention. Otherwise, they will do anything necessary to make heads turn toward them.

Tamarins are known to get bored quickly, including when it comes to their diet. It’s because of this why it’s a good idea to rotate their diet to keep them eating well and staying healthy.

Luckily, tamarins are omnivores. They will eat anything from nectar, leaves, fruits, nuts, sweet potatoes, carrots, crickets, mealworms to hard-boiled eggs.

One of the nicest things about tamarins is that they can be trained to poop in a given area. This means that, should you decide to keep one as a pet, there is no need to worry about your home ending up smelly and messy.

Here are some fast tamarin facts:

  • They cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500.
  • They are 22 to 44 inches long.
  • They weigh four pounds to 15 pounds.
  • They can live for eight to 15 years — up to 18 years if kept in captivity.
  • They have tails that are longer than their bodies.
  • They usually give birth to twins, and the family members help to raise them.
  • They are diurnal animals — like humans, they are active chiefly in the daytime.

Just Before You Adopt a Monkey

Having a monkey as a pet is nothing like taking care of a dog, cat, goldfish, parrot or any other common type of pet. The main difference lies in the cost of the animal and also the expenses associated with keeping it.

What’s more, it’s only in a few states (17 of them, as of 2012) where it’s legal to own a monkey — the rest of the states either partially or completely ban ownership of a monkey. So, before you try to order a monkey from a breeder, make sure that you won’t wind up in jail. It’s also important to carefully consider which monkey you will keep as a pet.

Above, we talked about some of the best monkeys for pets and the things that set them apart. Choose wisely (and make sure that your state allows keeping monkeys as pets), and you will not regret welcoming a monkey into your life.

Read Next: How to Take Care of Baby Squirrels

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of The Pet Rescue.

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