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Marmoset Monkeys Care Guide | Pet facts and realistic expectations about owning a marmoset

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Pet Marmoset Monkey Care and Facts

Pet Marmoset monkeys require specialized care and must be cared for similarly to a toddler. This guide will go over everything from special foods to cage requirements and will give you an idea of what to expect when you have a marmoset monkey as a companion pet. My name is Ashley Duncan, and having raised these tiny monkeys for decades in my home I am writing this from actual experience and wanting to convey actual information, not just silly google facts. The more informed you are, the better your decision will be.

Some people call them finger monkeys, this is not a scientific term, but more of a social term of endearment because of their size at birth (the size of a finger).

What is the lifespan of a marmoset monkey?

Marmoset Monkey Average Lifespan: You can expect a healthy marmoset monkey in captivity to live 15 to 20 years. It is important to note that some marmosets in captivity do not make it to this age due to a lack of education, or mishandling with the marmoset monkey. They are delicate, marmoset monkeys are not hardy.

What do marmoset monkeys eat?

Marmoset Diet: Marmosets eat commercial-based marmoset food, fruits & vegetables, healthy variations of insects, grains, and supplements. Food is available from specialized places online. Fresh produce can come from your grocery store.

Marmoset pet care guide

How big do marmoset monkeys get?

Size at Adulthood: Under a pound and the size of a barbie doll.

They are often called finger monkeys but they are only finger sized as babies.

Still thinking about getting a marmoset monkey, read my blog post about purchasing a baby.

What kind of cage do marmoset monkeys need?

Marmoset Minimum Enclosure requirements: You can have a medium to large size cage for your marmoset as long as they get plenty of time outside of the cage for exercise. The bigger the better as far as cage size goes. Yes, they need an enclosure! No matter how much outside of the cage time. You must be able to put your marmoset away, for their safety or otherwise, in their own space.

Marmosets must sleep in their enclosure! It is not safe for them to sleep with their owners.

They will become bored and unhappy if confined to a small cage all day long with little to no interaction. It is a must to provide a play area or a tall outdoor enclosure in which they can climb high, the way they would in the wild.

Living with a Marmoset Monkey

When hand-raised from infancy, marmosets can make fun and enjoyable pets for the right household. They have the cutest faces and have huge personalities even as babies. Keeping them loose in the house during the day after you have trained them is a very good option as long as you have marmoset-proofed your house. They will want your attention and do silly things to make sure you are watching.

Marmosets are a member of the primate family and are one of the smallest monkeys. Their urine has a strong odor, and some people will use special monkey diapers. They scent their areas by rubbing their perineum over everything: toys, food dishes, bedding, stuffed animals, furniture, rugs and caging.

They are intelligent and need stimulation. Interaction can be supplemented with toys, but if a marmoset is kept as a pet by itself, it will rely on the human family to become its family group.

Things to consider before owning a Marmoset Monkey

If there is no one home all day, or if you have young children a marmoset is NOT FOR YOU.

Monkeys cannot be expected to be “well-behaved”. Monkeys are happy only when they can fulfill their social and emotional needs. They need other social animals like them, they need to feel loved and protected and generally long for genuine affection. It is a mistake to think of them as cats, dogs or hamsters.

Monkeys have complex emotional needs, and a high level of intelligence and are likely to live a long life.

Vet care is very important and they need to have an experienced vet on hand in case of illness. This is NOT an impulse buy an animal. The screening process is significant for any primates.

They cannot be left in a cage alone for extended periods of time they require a lot of attention and care. If there is no one home all day, or if you have young children a marmoset is NOT FOR YOU.

Baby Marmosets are very susceptible to viruses, colds, flus, and cold sores all of which can be fatal. They should not be exposed to a lot of people for this reason, you should not take them out in public.

Once they reach sexual maturity they change drastically. Typically only like the 1 or 2 people that raised them as a baby. They do not do well with strangers and get territorial or will attack a stranger or child. They are small but have sharp teeth and can cause significant injury.

How Much do Marmosets cost to keep?

Costs for keeping a Pet Marmoset:

Canned Marmoset Diet…….....................$3/Month Cage...........................................................$100-$300 Hammocks................................................$20-$40 Fresh foods and Supplements...............$20/Month Diaper and covers...................................$5-$20 Clothing....................................................$5-$20 Toys……………………………........…..........…...$5-$10

How to get ready for a baby marmoset monkey?

Preparing for your Marmoset: Before you bring your marmoset monkey home, you should have its designated area ready and have all food ordered and prepared. Marmoset food almost always has to be ordered online so you should have all of their food ready by the time you get them. Clear your schedule and be prepared to spend several hours per day the first few weeks getting accustomed to your marmoset monkey and letting them get comfortable with you.

Remember to locate a vet experienced with exotics that is willing to see your baby BEFORE you get your baby. Have your vet give a general examination and let them get familiar with you and your baby in case of an emergency or routine visits in the future. You should take your baby in yearly for annual checkups.

Marmoset pet care guide

Marmoset Monkey FAQs

Do marmoset monkeys have scent glands or a smell?

​Yes, they do have scent glands the scent and urine can be very strong. It is a body odor that will not go completely away when neutered. Baths can be given to help with the odor.

Do Marmoset monkeys require any vaccinations?

No vaccines are needed however your Veterinarian may want to give vaccinations such as rabies or distemper. Please be sure they have experience with primates before they treat them.

How are Marmoset monkeys with other pets?

Playful with dogs and ferrets and will get along with most cats. Keep an eye out for playful fighting as marmosets are very small and dogs can get carried away and may hurt them accidentally. It is honestly best to NOT let your marmoset interact with other animals for risk of injury.

Are marmoset monkeys safe around children?

Absolutely not. Marmosets are far too small and delicate for handling by a child. Once marmosets reach maturity they will naturally want to attack any small human to establish their dominance in the household. Even if your little human is raised around them, this is not something that can be trained out, it is their instincts.

Can I let my Marmoset monkey run free in my home?

I would recommend that you baby-proof your house. Provide a safe environment for them to run free. Yes, they need an enclosure! No matter how much outside of the cage time. You must be able to put your marmoset away, for their safety or otherwise, in their own space.

What are the differences between male and female marmoset monkeys?

When they are kept in a pet environment there is no significant difference between the two sexes. Their personality comes out more based on how they are raised.

What are the differences between red-handed tamarins, cotton-top tamarins and marmoset monkeys?

Cotton tops are tamarins are extremely similar with little differences the real difference comes in how you raise and train your animals. Tamarins are slightly larger in size than a marmoset. In temperament, tamarins are calmer and less bitey. Marmosets are smaller and usually less costly than tamarins. Cotton-top tamarins are critically endangered in the wild and cannot cross state lines due to federal law.

Do Marmoset monkeys throw their poop?

Although they don't throw their poop, Marmosets will hang on the side of the cage and pee out of the cage, and marmoset urine STINKS.

Can Marmoset Monkeys contract human diseases?

​A pet marmoset can easily contract human diseases, such as the common cold. A human virus can be transmitted to the marmoset when it licks a plate or spoon, previously used by a human, or by close contact with the owner.

Do Marmoset monkeys bite?

Yes, they bite as babies, as juveniles, and as adults. They don't always draw blood, but an untrained marmoset can definitely go into attack mode, and cause injury worthy of stitches. Biting is a common way marmoset monkeys will communicate with you. This is one thing that you will constantly be working and training them with.

Captive marmosets will become territorial around the most dominant person, so they may attack and bite other people, specifically strangers and small children.

Do Marmoset Monkeys need a companion, or can you have one marmoset by itself?

A marmoset can live alone with you and your human family as their full-time companions. It is best to raise one marmoset into adulthood, and then determine if another one would be best for your situation. If you have successfully trained your marmoset and want to add another marmoset baby, you can add another. It is best to ensure you can handle one before committing to two.

Should you spay/neuter a marmoset monkey?

Yes, any marmoset monkey kept as a pet should be spayed or neutered between 8-12 months of age.

Is there any way to raise a marmoset with a child in the home?

I understand the hope and desire to share your monkeys with our family because they are like family to us. However, a monkey is not appropriate to be around a child or to be handled by a child, and the younger and smaller they are the worse it is. A monkey has the instinct to be at the top of a hierarchy and will try to attack a small child to assert its dominance. This will happen if the marmoset is neutered or not.

If you get a monkey with a small child living in the house you will have problems at one point or another, this is not something you can raise them to be accustomed to or train out of them. It is their nature.

The risk is great, and it would be highly irresponsible to put your monkey and child at risk of injury or high stress.

Do marmoset monkeys use their tail to swing or carry things?

No, a marmoset does not swing or hang from their tail and they do not carry things with it.

Do you need a license to own a marmoset monkey?

That all depends on where you live. Your city, state, county, and any other laws that govern you would apply. Anyone who is serious about owning a marmoset will look into all of their laws.

Still thinking about getting a marmoset monkey, read my blog post about purchasing a baby.



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