Disclaimer: Pet Keen does not endorse or encourage keeping squirrel monkeys or other non-human primates as pets. This article is for informative purposes only.

Squirrel monkeys are some of the cutest animals you can find. These animals are native to the tropical forests of central and south America and stand a little over one foot tall. Scientists often use them in experiments, and they has even gone to space. Trappers often catch them for the pet trade, which leaves many people wondering if they make a good pet.

Unfortunately, squirrel monkeys do not make good pets, so keep reading while we explain why not and if it is still possible to own one.


Are Squirrel Monkeys Legal?

Owning wild animals like the aquirrel monkey is increasingly frowned upon and illegal in many states, so we recommend checking your local laws before seriously considering getting one. While the majority of states will not allow it, some states still do.

Squirrel monkey sitting in a tree
Image Credit: kirahoffman, Pixabay


  • Alabama allows you to own a squirrel monkey.


  • Arkansas prevents people from owning larger primates, but the squirrel monkey is still legal.

North Carolina

  • North Carolina is one of the few states that still allow Americans to own a wide variety of exotic animals, including the monkey.

North Dakota

  • You need to obtain a Non-Traditional Livestock permit to own a squirrel monkey in North Dakota. You will also need to get your monkey disease tested, and they have specifications about the type and size of their cage.


Squirrel monkey on the roof
Image Credit: MyImages – Micha, Shutterstock
  • All primates, including the squirrel monkey, will need a permit in Florida.


  • Indiana will allow you to own a squirrel monkey.


  • You are allowed to own a squirrel monkey in Kansas.


  • Nebraska has several regulations on other animals but allows you to own a squirrel monkey.


  • Nevada will allow you to keep a monkey.


  • Ohio is a good example of how quickly laws can change. Just a few years ago, you could own many more kinds of exotic animals than you can today. However, you can still own a squirrel monkey if you have a permit.


  • Texas allows you to own a squirrel monkey.


  • Mississippi does not allow several primates, but the squirrel monkey is still legal.


  • Tennessee allows you to own a squirrel monkey.

West Virginia

  • West Virginia requires you to apply for a permit to own exotic animals, including the squirrel monkey.


  • Wyoming requires you to apply for a permit to own a squirrel monkey.


Why Don’t Squirrel Monkey Make Good Pets?

Squirrel monkey in a tree
Image Credit: MandrillArt, Pixabay

Squirrel monkeys were popular during the 1960s and 1970s because of their attractive appearance, but people discovered that they don’t make good pets. Squirrel monkeys are social pets that can live in large groups of 500 or more in the wild, so most experts recommend keeping at least two of them so while you will have double the fun, you will also have double the trouble.

  • Squirrel monkeys are destructive and like to throw things. If you let them out of the cage, they will likely toss everything in your home onto the floor.
  • Squirrel monkeys don’t only throw your objects on the floor. They also like to throw their feces at you.
  • Squirrel monkeys will frequently masturbate regardless of any onlookers.
  • Squirrel monkeys require constant entertainment and stimulation, or they will become noisy and aggressive to get your attention.
  • Squirrel monkeys require a large and complex habitat that can be difficult to create in a home.
  • The squirrel monkeys’ diet is hard to recreate, and they eat a surprising amount, so it’s quite expensive to feed them. They will also rub their food on everything.
  • Squirrel monkeys mark their territory with urine and naturally smell bad.
  • Many squirrel monkeys end up at the rescue shelter in just a short time because owners can no longer put up with them.

Related Reads:

How Do I Get a Squirrel Monkey?

As we’ve just mentioned the best, and least expensive way to obtain a squirrel monkey is to check around at your local animal shelters. Quite frequently, they have one that someone else didn’t want, especially if you live near a large city. Obtaining one at the local shelter is not only much less expensive, but these pets often come with the required vaccinations, and you will be freeing up resources that can go to help other animals in need.

If you don’t want to purchase from a breeder or there are no squirrel monkeys available, you will need to look online for a reputable breeder that sells captive-bred monkeys and does not deal in the illegal pet trade. You can expect to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for each squirrel monkey.



As you can see, squirrel monkeys do not make the greatest pet and are probably best left to live in their natural environment. If you have a love of these animals, a large budget, and plenty of time to spare, many owners have found success with a large outdoor enclosure, like one that you might find at a petting zoo, where you can raise several monkeys. Most people who try to keep these animals in their homes take them to an animal shelter once they realize how hard it is to care for them.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide, and it has helped answer your questions. If we helped you learn more about this exotic animal, please share our look into if squirrel monkeys make good pets on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: zoosnow, Pixabay