If you are thinking about having a monkey as a pet, we know several cute small monkey breeds that you will surely adore. In this guide, we include their respective characteristics to help you decide which one is best for you.
What are the different cute small monkey breeds? If you’re thinking of adopting a monkey as a pet, there are several cute small monkey breeds that you can choose from. This includes vervet monkeys, green monkeys, capuchin monkeys, titi monkeys, and more.
To know the rest of these cute small monkeys, consider keeping on reading, and we will shower you with substantial knowledge about these adorable creatures. On top of that, we will let you know if the stated monkeys can be a pet or not.
Table of Contents
16 Cute Small Monkey Breeds
The Green monkeys originated from West Africa. These monkeys are Old World monkey species, belonging to the same genus as Vervet monkeys. These monkeys are usually found in mangrove swamps and savannas.
Green monkeys possess green-tinted golden coats with hairless faces and lengthy, semi-prehensile tails. This monkey breed is polygynous and breeds between April and June each year.
When the female monkey is about to deliver, the labor typically ushers to one offspring. Being social animals, they go around troops of 7 to 80 members.
As pets, these monkeys can sometimes be aggressive and destructive, so you must make a suitable environment for this species to live peacefully.
It’s also worth noting that since these monkeys thrive in groups, you must get more than one or two of these monkeys to thrive in their new environment.
The diet of these monkeys includes fruits, seeds, flowers, leaves, seedpods, grasses and roots, supplementing this diet with small reptiles, birds, and insects. The price of this monkey species ranges from $3,500 to $4000.
- Appearance: Green monkeys are medium-sized monkeys covered in dense golden coats with a green shade, which they got their common name. These monkeys have hairless faces but are covered with dark blue skin traced by a soft string of white fur. Like most monkeys, green monkeys have long, slim, semi-prehensile tails.
- Lifespan: 11 years to 13 years (captivity), 10 years to 12 years (in the wild)
- Size: 12 inches to 19 inches in length
- Weight: 7.7 pounds to 17 pounds
- Color: Golden-green
- Place of Origin: West Africa
- Characteristics: Green monkeys are medium-sized Old World primates and are called by their name due to the green glow in their golden fur.
- Pet: Yes
Red-Handed Tamarins are also known as Golden-Handed Tamarins and Midas Tamarins due to their limbs’ red hair. These cute small monkeys are endemic to Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, and Surinam.
Red-Handed Tamarin monkeys are arboreal and can leap as high as 60 ft from the forest floor. These primates move in varied groups of 4 to 15 individuals dominated by males but are guided by the most senior female in the group.
While these monkeys are recorded as the least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), habitat loss is a threat to them. These monkeys also have several predators, including humans, snakes, dogs, etc.
The diet of these monkeys comprises fruit, insects, flowers, spiders, frogs, lizards, and nectar. Though these primates can be taken as pets, they should not be taken lightly since they need a lot of extra dedication and daily commitment.
The price of this pet monkey ranges from $3,500 to $3,800 each.
- Appearance: Red-Handed Tamarins primarily have black fur, red hair on hands and feet, with non-opposable thumbs.
- Lifespan: 8 years to 15 years
- Size: 7 inches to 12 inches in length
- Weight: 0.8 pounds to 1.1 pounds
- Color: Black
- Place of Origin: Northern Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, and Surinam
- Characteristics: The Red-Handed Tamarin is a short, lively primate that loves to wander around the Amazonian forests. Despite the lack of non-opposable thumbs and prehensile tails, these monkeys can jump between vines and branches with incredible agility and control.
- Pet: Yes
Vervet monkeys are agile primates of the Old World, native to East Africa. These monkeys are highly social, moving in troops of not over 50 members, having a steady social structure, and usually live in woodlands, savannas, and high bushes.
Vervet monkeys own a gray to olive-green coat with black fur covering their hands, feet, ears, faces, and tails tip. The forehead of these monkeys has a visible white band that is quite noticeable when looking at these primates.
Males of this species are much larger than females and can quickly be noticed with their bluish scrotum and red penis. The diet of these monkeys is extra broad, which includes: gum, eaves, nuts, seeds, fungi, grasses, berries, fruit, buds, flowers, and shoots.
These monkeys are occasionally known to feed on invertebrates, birds, birds’ eggs, rodents, lizards, and other vertebrate prey. Vervet monkeys can be kept as pets, but they must live in groups to thrive.
The price of this species starts at $2,500 to $3,000 above, depending on the age of the vervet monkey.
- Appearance: Vervet monkeys are small and black-faced primate species originating in East Africa. In general, the bodies of these monkeys are silvery-gray in color to greenish-olive. The hands, ears, feet, face, and tail’s tips are black, with a noticeable white streak on the forehead that mixes with their short whiskers.
- Lifespan: 18 years (in the wild), 30 years (in captivity)
- Size: 18 inches long
- Weight: 7.5 pounds to 12 pounds
- Color: Yellowish to greenish-brown
- Place of Origin: East Africa
- Characteristics: Vervet monkeys are short, black-faced primates with silvery-gray to greenish-olive colors. These monkeys have a noticeable white streak on their forehead that mixes with their short whiskers.
- Pet: Yes
Golden Lion Tamarins
Golden Lion Tamarins are small New World monkeys from the Brazilian Atlantic coastal forests. The appearance of these monkeys is comparable to a lion with their reddish fur and mane.
The female Golden Lion Tamarins typically give birth to twins. Males usually take part in raising newborns and occasionally carry them on their backs.
These monkeys are highly territorial and defensive. They usually mark their territory with odor markings, defending it with verbal threats.
Monkeys of this species primarily eat fruits, small invertebrates, and insects. Nonetheless, they also consume leaves, nectars, etc.
It’s best to note that owning this species as pets is illegal, but there are those that purchase these monkeys illegally at $7,000 each.
- Appearance: The Golden Lion Tamarins are among the most beautiful monkey species, with their thick golden hair stands and charismatic black faces covering their little body and tail.
- Lifespan: 10 years to 15 years
- Size: 6 inches to 10 inches
- Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Color: Reddish-orange
- Place of Origin: Brazil
- Characteristics: Both sexes of the Golden lion tamarin have mane-like strands that hem their faces. These monkeys use their long, slim fingers and nails to break tree bark, pulling out insects to feast.
- Pet: No
Capuchins are intelligent monkeys of the New World that are native to South and Central America. These monkeys are also called sapajou and can grow up to 22 inches.
In addition, Capuchins have opposable thumbs and prehensile tails with dark brown to black fur. Some species of this breed possess a white coat near their upper chest and face, such as the White-Fronted Capuchin.
According to IUCN, the White-Fronted Capuchin and Golden-bellied Capuchin species are critically endangered. Meanwhile, Tufted Capuchin, Guianan Weeper Capuchin, and Large-Headed Capuchin are the least concerned.
The diet of Capuchin monkeys includes insects, fruits, small birds, and leaves. Though this monkey can be a pet, it can get aggressive in a human home and require a lot of space for exercising.
You can purchase capuchin monkeys from $5,000 to $7,000 each as a pet.
- Appearance: Capuchin monkeys are buff, brown, black, or whitish in color. However, this typically depends on the species concerned. These monkeys usually have a dark brown color with cream or off-white color surrounding their necks.
- Lifespan: 15 years to 25 years
- Size: 12 inches to 22 inches (adult)
- Weight: 1.9 kg to 4.8 kg
- Color: Buff, brown, black, and whitish
- Place of Origin: Central America and South America
- Characteristics: Capuchins own opposable thumbs and long, prehensile tails. These monkeys are deemed the smartest out of the New World monkeys. Capuchins are also social, diurnal, and quite territorial and spend most of their days scouring for food, dangling out in trees, and marking their territory using their urine.
- Pet: Yes
Guenons are Old World monkey species originating from Central and West Africa. These monkeys typically live in groups, predominantly females, with at least one male.
Guenon monkeys have tiny noses pointing downwards, with a narrow septum. Their tails and hind legs are long, which is used for balance. Furthermore, these primates have round heads, which is quite adorable.
These monkeys are known as leaf-eating monkeys, but they also feed on insects, fruits, and seeds. As pets, they can get aggressive, so they are not ideal to bring home. They also require living in groups with a large space to thrive and live well.
Guenons’ selling price starts at $4,500 to $10,000 but can also reach up to $50,000 depending on the species.
- Appearance: Guenons have slim beaks, typically pointing downwards, with a narrow septum. These monkeys have round heads, long hind legs, and long tails for balance.
- Lifespan: 16 years
- Size: 10 inches to 34 inches
- Weight: 2.2 pounds to 28 pounds
- Color: Gray
- Place of Origin: Central Africa and West Africa
- Characteristics: Guenon monkey species possess colorful face masks, fur, rump pads, large cheek pouches, and long tails. This helps with their balance while hopping from tree to tree.
- Pet: No
Gibbons are acrobatic primates that originated in Southeast Asia. These monkeys spend most of their days dangling and jumping in thick forests.
These monkeys move in a unique manner called brachiating. This motion lets them move as fast as 35 mph. On top of that, Gibbons can also cover intervals of up to 50 feet with only one jump.
Brachiating also allows them to swing swiftly and pick fruits (their main diet) that grow at the tree branches. Nonetheless, when fruits are scarce, they resort to eating leaves, shoots, flowers, eggs, and insects.
If you’re thinking of making this monkey a pet, it’s best to know that it is illegal to own one. Some make illegal purchases starting from $30 to $40,000—depending on whom you bought it from.
- Appearance: Gibbons are lightweight and quite small monkeys. Their cute appearance comes from their small, rounded head, short and lean body with pretty long arms, and no visible tail.
- Lifespan: 25 years
- Size: 17 inches to 25 inches long (adult)
- Weight: 11 pounds to 28 pounds
- Color: Light brown to dark brown
- Place of Origin: Southeast Asia
- Characteristics: Gibbons has strong, hook-like hands used for gripping branches and are very intelligent creatures. These monkeys can also be gentle, but with chances of being too curious and mischievous.
- Pet: No
Spider monkeys occupy the forests of Central and South America, along with Southern Mexico.
These monkeys are thumbless but can move from tree to tree without problem, using their prehensile tail. They live in groups comprising roughly 35 members but move forward into smaller groups when looking for food.
IUCN listed these monkeys as threatened primarily by habitat loss and hunting pressure.
These monkeys mainly feed on fruits and occasionally eat leaves, nuts, flowers, seeds, arachnids, and insects. Although these monkeys can be kept as pets legally, they can become violent towards humans, so it’s worth considering letting them be in the wild or in zoos where they can get the care and space they need.
The selling price of spider monkey in the monkey starts from $10,000 up.
- Appearance: Spider monkey possesses varied colors. They can be red, golden, brown, buff, or black, with usually black feet and hands. In addition, Spider monkeys have slender bodies and limbs with long thin hands and muscular, prehensile tails used as supplementary hands.
- Lifespan: 25 years when living in the wild, 40 years when living in captivity
- Size: 21 inches long
- Weight: 19 pounds
- Color: Red, golden, buff, black or brown
- Place of Origin: Central and South America
- Characteristics: Spider monkeys have long, slim limbs and incredible agility. They move in small groups in forest trees, rolling swiftly by making huge leaps with the assistance of their prehensile tails.
- Pet: Yes
Squirrel monkeys are one of the New World monkeys without a prehensile tail. These cute small monkeys are found primarily in South America and Central America’s tropical rainforests.
These New World monkeys are diurnal, possessing vocals, with up to 30 various kinds of calls. Also, IUCN has listed these monkeys as among the least concerned monkey species.
These monkeys primarily eat fruits and insects but also occasionally feast on buds, leaves, flowers, nuts, small vertebrates, and eggs. Unlike other monkeys on this list, squirrel monkeys are highly social animals, making them ideal pets.
The current price of this monkey in the market is between $2,000 to $4,000.
- Appearance: Squirrel monkeys have a skinny, bendy build, with bright yellow legs and short grayish fur. These monkeys have non-prehensile tails that often curl over one shoulder when resting.
- Lifespan: 25 years
- Size: 12.5 inches (adult)
- Weight: 1.65 pounds to 2.1 pounds
- Color: Yellow or orange
- Place of Origin: South America
- Characteristics: Squirrel monkeys are social primates that prefer to live in groups of up to 500 individuals. These animals are mainly frugivores (mainly feed on fruits) and insectivores (primarily eat insects). However, their diet is not limited to those since these monkeys also consume small vertebrates.
- Pet: Yes
Titi monkeys are among the New World primates, originating from Brazil’s Amazon River Basin. These monkeys usually live in forests—particularly in lower tree canopies, along the river and lake shores, as well as swamps.
In terms of diet, Titi monkeys are primarily fruit-eating primates, but also occasionally feed on leaves, some insects, and seeds, especially when fruits are scarce. These monkeys are not domesticated and can be aggressive towards humans, so they can’t be kept as pets.
Currently, IUCN listed this monkey species as among the least concerned.
- Appearance: Both sexes have a black face, chestnut brown with grayish bodies, and a non-prehensile tail. However, their colors are not limited to that. Titi monkeys also have orange-brown fur or red, black, brown, and gray.
- Lifespan: 25 years
- Size: 13 inches (adult)
- Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Color: Gray, red, black, and brown
- Place of Origin: Brazil
- Characteristics: Titi monkeys are quick-witted, flexible, lively, and versatile primate species. These monkeys are not particularly aggressive, except when seeing unfamiliar conspecifics in their territories.
- Pet: No
Night monkeys or owl monkeys are the primate species of the New World. These nocturnal monkeys originated from Panama and can grow as long as 13.5 inches to 25 inches.
The diet of this species is inclusive of fruits, young leaves, flowers, small mammals, nectars, insects, and even small birds. These monkeys are illegal to own as pets.
- Appearance: Night monkeys own gray fur on the back part of their bodies and yellow or light gray fur on the front side. Species living on higher elevations have thicker and fuzzier coats than species living in lowland forests.
- Lifespan: 20 years
- Size: 13.5 inches to 25 inches
- Weight: 1 pound to 2.8 pounds
- Color: Gray, brown
- Place of Origin: Panama
- Characteristics: Night monkeys own a dense, fuzzy fur, ranging from brown to gray, with orange to yellow underparts and an orange streak running down the back. On top of that, large gray or white patches encircle their eyes and mouth, with three dark stripes extending from each side of the head and top of the nose.
- Pet: No
Tarsiers are cute and tiny Southeast Asian monkeys with an elevated sense of smell. They have lengthy tails—which are two times the length of their bodies.
These cute small monkeys are insectivores, which means they eat various insects, such as spiders, termites, beetles, cicadas, moths, ants, crickets, caterpillars, grasshoppers, katydids, walking sticks, and cockroaches.
Tarsiers can be kept as pets and are worth around $11 to $22.
- Appearance: Tarsiers have unusually long ankle bones with short bodies and a rounded head, which can rotate 180°. Also, their faces are quite short, with big, membranous ears and gray to dark brown velvety thick fur.
- Lifespan: 10 years
- Size: 4 inches to 6 inches (adult; tail not included)
- Weight: 60 grams to 80 grams
- Color: Dark brown, gray
- Place of Origin: Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, and Malaysia)
- Characteristics: All tarsier species convey the same general characteristics—large eyes, soft coats, long slim fingers, large bat-like ears, long hairless tails, and lengthy hind legs.
- Pet: Yes
Pygmy Marmosets are also one of the New World primates and originated in the South America Amazon regions of Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, and northern Bolivia.
These monkeys are also the smallest in the world, alongside tarsiers. Some full-grown Pygmy Marmosets can even fit perfectly in an adult’s human hand.
Their diet is primarily insects and fruits. Pygmy Marmosets are generally friendly, so they can make good pets. However, it’s best to note that they will require extra care and dedication to thrive in a human environment, and males can get aggressive.
You can purchase this species for $4,000 and up. These cute small monkeys are currently being threatened by habitat loss and the pet trade. However, they are still recorded among the least concerned monkey species by IUCN but with a declining population.
- Appearance: Both sexes of pygmy marmosets are orange-brown in color with stripes of black and brown, known as agouti coloring. This particular coloration allows them to camouflage to their environment well.
- Lifespan: 12 years
- Size: 5 inches to 6 inches (adult; excluded the tail)
- Weight: 100 grams
- Color: Orange-brown
- Place of Origin: South America Amazon Regions
- Characteristics: Adult pygmy marmosets own tails that are longer than their bodies and marked with prominent black rings. Their faces have fur that sweeps back over their ears and forehead.
- Pet: Yes
Howler monkeys are other monkeys of the New World, originating from Central America and South America These monkeys use their tails as extra arms and have distinctive cries, which can be heard even 3 miles away—the reason why they are called Howler monkeys.
These monkeys mainly eat nuts, fruits, and flowers. If you’re thinking of getting this species as a pet, think again. These monkeys can’t be kept as pets as they are wild and aggressive towards humans.
On top of that, they are illegal to own and can get extremely noisy, which isn’t ideal if you have strict neighbors.
- Appearance: Howler monkeys are heavy-built, bearded primates with a crouched look and wooly prehensile tails, stripped on the underside to have a better grip. These monkeys have thick, long hair that is usually red, brown, or black color.
- Lifespan: 15 years to 20 years
- Size: 22 inches to 36 inches
- Weight: 15 pounds to 22 pounds
- Color: Red, brown or black
- Place of Origin: South America and Central America
- Characteristics: Howlers are undeniably the loudest monkeys. Their cries can be heard 3 miles away. They use their loud voices to call and let others know their territory, warning them to stay away. The calls are usually like roars or whooping bark.
- Pet: No
White-Faced Saki Monkeys
Unlike their names, not all White-faced Saki monkeys have white faces, but only the males have this attribute. Females have brownish-gray fur and face with pale brown or white stripes on the corners of their mouths and noses.
These monkeys originate from Northeastern South America, and their breed can be found in various places, including Northern Brazil, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, and French Guiana.
White-faced Saki monkeys’ diet comprises 90% of seeds and fruits but is also known to eat young leaves, flowers, and sometimes small animals. These animals are illegal to own, so they can’t be kept as pets.
The population of these primates is stable, and the IUCN lists them as among the least concerned.
- Appearance: White-faced saki monkeys are named after the male’s monkey appearance. In general, the males are all black except for their white faces. Females, on the other hand, are predominantly brown to brown-gray, with lighter bellies and pale red to bright white stripes growing from each eye to the mouth’s corner.
- Lifespan: 35 years
- Size: 12.5 inches to 16 inches
- Weight: 0.8 pounds to 5.3 pounds
- Color: Brown, black, brown-gray
- Place of Origin: Northeastern South America
- Characteristics: White-faced saki monkeys are diurnal. When resting, they usually stick vertically to a tree trunk and typically jump from this placement as well.
- Pet: No
Unlike the majority of breeds on this list, Macaques belong to the Old World primates. This implies that these monkeys don’t possess prehensile tails and they have small noses with a thin septum.
These monkeys are mainly frugivorous—meaning they primarily eat fruits. Nonetheless, their diet also includes flowers, tree bark, seeds, and leaves.
These monkeys can’t be kept as pets due to behavioral problems. However, illegal traders sell these monkeys for $4,000 to $8,000.
- Appearance: Macaques are strong monkeys whose legs and arms have the same length. The fur of these monkeys is generally variable shades of black and brown with rounded noses.
- Lifespan: 25 years
- Size: 16 inches to 28 inches
- Weight: 12 pounds to 40 pounds (adult males), 5 pounds to 28 pounds (Adult Females)
- Color: Reddish-brown, gray-brown
- Place of Origin: North Africa and Asia
- Characteristics: Macaques are highly intelligent cute small monkeys with large pouches located on their cheeks to store food. These monkeys can swim and spend the majority of their time on the ground.
- Pet: No
Can You Have a Small Monkey as a Pet?
There are small monkey species that can be legally owned as pets, such as the Tamarins. However, it’s best to know that monkeys as pets will require a lot of attention and care.
If you think you can give them that, alongside an ideal environment for them to thrive, then you can get a small monkey as a pet.
Do Tiny Monkeys Make Good Pets?
Generally, monkeys don’t make good pets—not even tiny monkeys. Though monkeys can be sweet sometimes, they need proper care and an ideal environment to adapt to a human home., which can take time.
If you think you can provide your preferred monkey pet with an ideal living situation, then, by all means, get one. However, if you are apprehensive about your capability of providing a good home for these cute monkeys, then do them a favor by letting them live in their natural habitat or with people who can give them one.
What Is the Best Small Monkey for a Pet?
If you are looking for the best small monkey for a pet, Tamarins are worth considering. These cute monkeys are very friendly, active, and intelligent, making them ideal pets.
However, you have to exert effort to care for these little ones and allow them to socialize. These pets should not be taken lightly as they will demand daily dedication and commitment than your average pet.
So, think thoroughly if getting a small monkey pet is for you or not.
As adorable as they seem, small monkeys are still wild animals. Their behavior can get unpredictable and sometimes can get hostile when brought to a new environment.
So, if you’re thinking of getting a small monkey as a pet, it’s best to ask yourself if you can provide for their needs sufficiently. If you believe you can, you can always refer to this guide to see which small monkey pet species is perfect for you.
List of Sources
Pfeifer, S. P. (2017). The Demographic and Adaptive History of the African Green Monkey. Molecular Biology and Evolution.
Pennock, E. E. (2013). From Gibbons to Gymnasts: A Look at the Biomechanics and Neurophysiology of Brachiation in Gibbons and its Human Rediscovery. Clark University.
Espósito, L. (2013). Howler monkeys: Who coordinates their displacements when there is no hierarchy? National Scientific and Technical Research Council.
Old World Monkeys. Palomar College.