Pet Monkey Care Tips

Caring for a baby monkey is not rocket science but it does require A LOT of time, patience, and commitment. I will try as best I can to describe my experience raising a baby monkey. If anyone has additional information they think I should add, please feel free to send me an email.

As I have mentioned, I got Joey when he was 1 month old. He probably weighed .5-.75lbs. He had tiny little teeth and he was not that active. He liked to stay on his stuffed bear, or on me. His locomotory was not quite fully developed yet. Much like a human infant, he would, for example, try to grab something in front of him and not reach far enough to grab it. He probably learned to grab objects precisely at about 2 months of age.


I began diapering Joey from the first day I got him. Since he was so small, I had to improvise. I bought those small baby towels that are about 5 inches x 5 inches, and cut a panty liner in half. I folded the little towel towards the middle on the right and left side, and then put the liner in the middle. I would then slide it under, unfold the 2 upper flaps under him & the lower corners under him. I would then connect all 4 flaps on his back and would use a bobby pin to hold it all together. (see pictures below for better idea. I know it sounds a little confusing.) I always kept Joey on his bear when diapering him. I did not grab his so that I would not stress him out.

Step 1: Grab small baby towel.

Step 2: Fold one side towards middle, then other side.

Step 3: Place half of panty liner, sticky side down, in middle of folded towel.

Step 4: Pull together 2 tabs under monkey around back, and then 2 tabs over, placing tail in the middle of the 2 tabs that fold over.

Step 5: Pin all tabs together

Joey with towel/panty-liner diaper.

I began using preemie diapers when he was about a month and a half. Those are much easier. I just cut a hole in the front of the diaper, slip his tail through, then I hold his legs and slip the diaper under, unstick the tab and wrap them around his back.(Remember on monkeys diapers go on backwards so they can't take them off.)


Monkey Biscuits are essential to having a healthy primate. The sooner one begins feeding the monkey biscuits the better your monkey will eat them as an adult. I began putting chopped biscuits in Joey's milk at about 1 1/2 months. I gradually made the consistency of the baby formula, rice cereal, and biscuits thicker. I added more and more biscuits, and less rice cereal/formula each week or so. I also began giving him other solid foods. By 5 months Joey was eating solely solid foods, save a morning bottle because he loved it.

The formula used for baby monkeys is human baby formula. I used the one that is for babies with allergies, soy formula with iron, because it was what the breeder recommended I use. There are controversies with using the ones with soy. They say the soy creates some kind of chemical imbalance in their brain which may lead to aggression as adults. Others say it does nothing. You could just use one that is soy free, and not have to worry. Some say a good alternative to formula is goat's milk. I believe its less strong than cow milk or something. Experts recommend weaning monkeys off of their bottles by 9-12 months for the medium sized monkeys. The smaller species such as Squirrels, Marmosets and Tamarins, at 5-6 months. Prolonging the formula bottle (high simple sugar) longer than the 9-12 months increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes much later in life - the association is not often made then. What some owners do is give the bottle with ground monkey chow and water. Most monkeys LOVE the bottle, like babies, and wont come off until you make them. You have to be strong for their own good. It is easier, faster, and sweeter than anything else and they will prefer it forever. There are lots of ways to wean, so do what you feel is best for your monkey. You can start leaving off one bottle now, then another, etc. You can also give less formula in each bottle and dilute it down. Just start now and gradually wean both volume and frequency.

BOTTLE FEEDING INFANTS- When bottle feeding a baby monkey NEVER put them on their back as you would a human baby. This can lead to choking and death. Always feed them on their stomach, tilted upwards slightly.

Primate Diet from The Merck Veterinary Manual for your reference.
Diet Form to be filled out when leaving someone responsible for your animals in your absence.

I also microwave various vegetables to soften them up to. I feed my monkeys mostly carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and celery. As for the fruits I give them grapes, raisins, and pieces of apples, pears, mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, kiwi. I limit these quantities. To much fruits can give them the runs. On occasion a boiled egg between my two, pasta (1-2 noodles each, no sauce or spices, just boiled in water), or whole wheat cereal.

As a treat I give them meal worms, and crickets. A web site reader also suggested wax worms, although I have not tried those yet. Below is suggested diet for Spider Monkeys. The protein requirements of capuchin (Cebus) monkeys is higher than that of spider (Ateles) monkeys and the protein requirements of squirrel monkeys somewhere in between. Therefore, the amount of egg or equivalent amount of cooked protein should be doubled in the morning and evening feedings and the total food intake decreased according to the lower body weights of capuchin & Squirrel monkeys. (Diet below is for spiders, so the protein for capuchin is higher, and that of squirrel in the middle between capuchin and Spiders).

In the wild a spider monkey’s diet include primarily fruits supplemented by leaves – they don’t get much sugar or fats. vegetables (cabbage, kale, spinach, cooked carrot and sweet potato, etc.), and leaves (Eugenia, hibiscus, mulberry, maple, etc. can be fed in the U.S.) The amounts of food to feed depend upon body weight and metabolic rate. There is no fixed amount that can be given. It varies between individual animals as well as their environment. Two feedings a day should be offered on a weight reduction program. Vegetables: lettuce, spinach, cabbage, corn, carrot, etc. These herbivores feed primarily on young leaf shoots, flowers, and fruits. A diet that can be basically described as being high in bulk, but low in energy. Large amounts of leafy vegetables and browse should be offered through the day, and particularly during the critical phase of acclimation. Foods with high caloric values may, at least initially, be difficult for them to utilize, and cause digestive problems and diarrhea. Recommended browse species include rose, blackberry, mulberry, sweet potato vines, bamboo, hibiscus blossoms. In cold climates, browse may be cut and frozen for use during the winter. Additional green vegetables are green beans, Chinese cabbage, kale, and spinach. Other food items include banana, plantain, hard-boiled eggs (in very moderate amounts), bread, sweet potato, cooked rice, carrot, and just a few mealworm larva or crickets

Spider Monkey Morning Meal:
3 slices of banana ˝ inch thick
3 asparagus spears
2 TBS diced orange
One half cup of cut green beans
1/4 hard-boiled egg with shell (cut up, maximum)
1 TBS corn (thawed frozen or fresh)
5 peanuts
1 TBS sunflower seeds
1 heaping TBS avocado
A few sprigs of parsley 1 heaping TBS black-eyed peas (shelled)
1/2 slice turnip
1/2 slice whole wheat bread cubed

Spider Monkey Afternoon Meal:
One quarter slice of whole wheat bread
One quarter apple
3 slices of banana – one half inch thick
3 asparagus spears
5 grapes halfed
2 TBS diced orange
1/2 small sweet potato (chopped)
1 1/2 TBS lettuce mix* (Romaine, cabbage, & celery)
8 peanuts
1 TBS sunflower seeds
6" piece of carrot – chopped
4 snow peas

Occasional crickets or mealworms as a treat. Some spider monkeys like meal worms and crickets, some don’t. Offer teaspoon-sized portions. Minimize intake of human sweets, dessert foods, milk products, carbohydrates and fats. It is OK to give the monkey one human children's vitamin tablet 2 - 3 times a week instead of the liquid pediatric multivitamin supplement. Avoid foods which have been enriched with iron such as fortified cereals. Other treats occasionally: soaked raisins, other types of fruit - portion of treat/day should be less than 1 teaspoon in volume. Lettuce mix ingredients are placed in a chopper and mixed. Use long and thin pieces.

Always remember portion size in proportion to your monkey's size. A treat should be about the size of their hand. Monkeys will eat as long as you give them foods they like...even if not hungry. Think of yourself and what is considered a decent size snack for you. A snickers bar is ok for you, but NOT ok for a monkey as they are MUCH smaller than us. Especially the smaller species.

Another big problem with capuchins and larger monkeys is keeping them with a fresh supply of water. I hear many complaints of monkeys who empty out the conventional water bottles in minutes, or take apart water fountains put inside of the cage for fun. An excellent method I found to be used with great success is the following. They brought a waterline to the outdoor cage, and clamped the plastic pvc pipe to the outside of the cage. They attached a nozzle (can be purchased at most hardware stores) which only releases water when the primate moves the nozzle.


Both monkeys sleep in my room at night. I have separate sleeping cages for them (see pictures below). I have a large sheet I throw over the cage so that they can sleep even though the lights are on. I also have the two cages on top of a large rug to keep the area clean. I am afraid of leaving them outside at night, and I think they would be nervous as well. Both Joey and Sofie sleep the entire night. I try to have them in bed by 9:00-9:30 pm, and I wake them up around 8:30-9:00AM.


Before you go to a vet make an index card for each monkey, date the card, and leave a blank space to fill in weight, measurements, and other pertinent information. Write down what you would like to discuss with your vet during your visit (file nails, check teeth, etc) plus make note of any vaccinations, blood work and TB tests. Another important tidbit: Have the vet jot down what tranquilizer was used and the amount used. IN case of an emergency where your vet is unable you will have the information ready of the vet that is able to see your monkey. One of her monkeys takes much less to knock out, and it helps to remind them of what they used before & how the monkey responded. After the visit the card goes into that monkeys folder for future references.

Vet Form Courtesy of UAPPEAL
Pet Guardian Form Courtesy of UAPPEAL- The Pet Guardian form is to assign a caregiver in the case that you are no longer able to care for your animals. Be sure that the person you are assigning has accepted the responisblity of caring for your animals in your absence. Any owner of exotic/hard to place species should have a person in mind, which would take this on. One never knows what life may throw at us. Being prepared and thinking ahead is an essential part of responisble ownership.


Capuchin sized monkeys and larger are very smart. Many of them figure out how to remove their collars and leashes. Below are some pictures to give you ideas other owners used to keep their leashes on.

Owners used a combination of the O-ring (eternity key chain rings that can be bought at any Wal-mart or arts and Crafts store, or taken from old key chains), small locks, and the leash without the clip. Collar and leash pictures courtesy of Simian Society of America.

If you are taking in a new monkey that is an adult who wasn't handled, it is a good idea to use a collar around the waste with a small lead tied to it. When you need to gain control of the monkey you just grab the short lead, and not the monkeys tail. This will make the monkey less threatened by you. Use this method until you have gained the monkeys trust and it allows you to control him/her using their tail. All this is a process which takes time. Don't force yourself on the monkey.

Notice the lead has a small loop on the end. I made it so that you can just grab the lead and attach a leash to it easily, without having to hold the monkey down to attach the leash directly on the collar. This equals less stress on the primate and yourself. Try to find a string that is sufficiently strong, and not to flimsy. I usually use the strings that come on shopping bags. Don't make it too long where it can get tangled in stuff in the cage. Also make sure you there are no hooks, etc, that the loop can get stuck on.

Below is a picture of a lock out box. A similar box can be attached to the cage where it is accesible form the outside so that a monkey can be contained and locked in the box while cage is being cleaned. Treats or foraging boards should be affixed to the outside of the box for entertainment while inside.


This is advice regarding animals (dogs, cats, monkeys, etc) that are known to you and have not been exposed to rabies or other viruses.

A wound should be washed/cleaned with clean water and soap IMMEDIATELY after any bite. The idea is to remove as much dirt and saliva—and therefore, bacteria—as possible. It may hurt to scrub a wound, but an infection will hurt a lot more. Always wash with soap and water first. Then a disinfectant, such as iodine, applied to the wound to further clean and kill any bacteria. I recommend Betadine (its Povidone-Iodine). That is what hospitals use to clean wounds, and prepare skin for surgery. By this way most bacteria will be killed. If it is a superficial bite, such as a scratch, not much else is needed. A band-aid will be enough. Neosporin optional.

There are different types of animal bites. Some are more superficial, and others such as cat bites, although look like nothing can be slightly more serious because they are puncture wounds. Puncture wounds should follow the same cleaning protocol as above.

Dog bites typically cause a crushing-type wound because of their rounded teeth and strong jaws. An adult dog can exert 200 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure, with some large dogs able to exert 450 psi. Such extreme pressure may damage deeper structures such as bones, vessels, tendons, muscle, and nerves.

The sharp pointed teeth of cats usually cause puncture wounds and lacerations that may inoculate bacteria into deep tissues. Infections caused by cat bites generally develop faster than those of dogs.

For larger bites: Animal bites are not usually given stitches due to risk of infection after closing if not all bacteria is killed. If the wound is a big bite (bleeding, possibly needing stitches) clean the wound 2-3 times daily with soap and water, betadine, and apply Neosporin before bandaging. Using sterile bandages to clean the area is wise. Then apply Neosporin (after betadine has dried), and cover with a sterile bandage and medical tape. Butterfly stitches may also be used if needed. Be sure to keep the wound free from dirt and other particles which may lead to infection later on. Its not so much the bite from an animal, but what may get in there after. In general, the better the vascular supply and the easier the wound is to clean (ie, laceration vs puncture), the lower the risk of infection. If a bite wound involves the hand, consider immobilizing in a bulky dressing or splint to limit use and promote elevation (i.e. keeping above the heart).

Possible reactions: If an animal bite is more than just a scratch or superficial bite, such as in puncture wounds, the area around the bite site may swell. A trauma to the body elicits a reaction. In the case of a bite, swelling of surrounding areas is a sign of two possible things: 1. That your body has begun the healing process. The area may also feel warm to the touch. 2. Prolonged swelling and oozing pus may also be a sign of infection. Watching for signs of infection (pus, white areas, and extreme redness) is important. Depending on the bite swelling should begin to subside after 3-4 days. If area is swollen and has pus, taking an oral antibiotic may be necessary. Be sure not to confuse fatty tissue for pus. If visiting a doctor, excess fatty tissue around bite may be removed. Basically, swelling is not necessairly a cause for alarm if the wound is kept clean.

If the person bitten works in construction or around dirt a tetanus shot would be wise. Tetanus is found in dirt, and if dirt particles enter the wound it may lead to infection.

If the wound is deep/large it may require an antibiotic. The most common given for animal bites is Amoxicillin. Antibiotics should be taken if one believes the risk of infection is high, and the entire prescription is completed in the dosage required. The missing of one day of capsules may render the previous days null, and require dosage to be begun again. Antibiotics may begin to loose effectiveness if taken often. Also of note in women: Antibiotics disrupt the natural flora of private areas and may lead to infection (such as yeast infection). Because of this, women should take antibiotics only when truly needed.

If one is bitten by an animal which could possibly have been exposed to rabies, such as a stray cat or dog, the cleaning procedure above should be followed as well as a series of rabies post-exposure (rabies prophylaxis) shots administered by a health care professional. A tetanus shot is also recommended.

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