While Tamarin owners swear that Tamarins make good pets, many critics argue that owning them is inhumane. In fact, Tamarins are illegal to own in more than a handful of states.
But is it legal to own a Tamarin where you live, and what are the challenges that go into owning one? We break down everything that you need to know about potentially owning one of these adorable primates in this comprehensive guide.
Please keep in mind that we do not endorse keeping a Tamarin monkey as a pet.
Is It Legal to Own a Tamarin Monkey?
If you’re trying to determine if it’s legal for you to own a Tamarin monkey, it all comes down to where you live. There’s no federal law prohibiting the possession or sale of a Tamarin monkey, but there are plenty of state laws.
Here, we highlighted 20 states that currently make it illegal to own a Tamarin monkey. Keep in mind that since state laws are always changing, it’s best to check both state and local laws before attempting to purchase a Tamarin monkey.
Also, consider that many states require a permit, which means you can’t head out to a local pet store and try to purchase a monkey. Many of these states will limit how many monkeys that you can own to prevent breeding.
Should You Keep a Pet Tamarin?
There are undoubtedly a few ethical and potential health concerns with keeping a pet Tamarin. While we’re not going to take a side in the debate here, we will present you with the arguments from both sides so you can make your own decision.
One argument that critics make against owning Tamarins is that humans can pass on deadly diseases to the Tamarin, and the Tamarin can pass on potentially fatal diseases to humans. Tamarins often carry hepatitis B, and a scratch or bite can give that to a human.
Meanwhile, humans can pass on cold sores to the small Tamarin, which can be deadly. Another potential ethical concern is the fact that wild Tamarins have access to having wide areas to roam, and human enclosures can’t match this. Critics claim that this leads to a Tamarin that is missing basic needs and gets stunted social and developmental growth.
Meanwhile, people who own pet Tamarins claim that with enough attention and stimulation, Tamarins show no signs of distress and in fact, seem happy in captivity. While you can’t reintegrate them into the wild, this is no big deal if you plan on owning a Tamarin for their entire life.
As far as medical concerns go, if the animals are properly tested and come from a reputable breeder, the chances of them carrying diseases is extremely low. If you take proper precautions before handling a Tamarin, the chances of passing on anything to them are also slim.
Are Tamarin Monkeys Aggressive?
When you properly take care of a Tamarin monkey, they are far from aggressive. However, if they feel threatened, they can have aggressive tendencies that include hitting, biting, throwing things, and other forceful acts of self-defense.
Just because the Tamarin feels threatened doesn’t mean they were, though, so you might have to deal with the occasional aggressive behavior until they feel more comfortable with different situations.
How Much Does a Tamarin Monkey Cost?
It’s not cheap to purchase a Tamarin monkey. Due to all the regulations placed on these animals, breeding is difficult, which drives up the cost. Expect to spend anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 to purchase a Tamarin monkey, and you might need to spend even more money to get all the necessary permits.
Getting a Tamarin monkey is one of the most expensive pets that you can purchase.
How Do You Take Care of a Tamarin Monkey?
Taking care of a Tamarin requires a great deal of work and dedication. For starters, they need an extremely large enclosure that measures 3 feet wide, 3 feet long, and 7 feet tall at a minimum. The bar spacing needs to be less than ½” apart; otherwise, they can get stuck in the cage or escape.
They need constant attention and have complex dietary needs that you need to meet. Still, if you conquer all these challenges, the Tamarin is an extremely intelligent pet that you can train to complete a wide variety of tasks.
They’re extremely playful and inquisitive and enjoy your company, and it’s not hard to see why so many people love Tamarins as pets.
Can You Potty-Train a Tamarin Monkey?
While you might think that you can potty-train a Tamarin monkey to help contain the mess, it’s not going to happen. While you might be able to potty-train a youth, when these monkeys hit adolescence and adulthood, they grow out of everything that you’ve trained them to do.
If you’re purchasing a Tamarin monkey with the hopes of potty-training them, you better come up with a backup plan.
How Long Does a Tamarin Monkey Live?
Considering that a Tamarin can live anywhere from 10 to 20 years, adopting a Tamarin is a long-term commitment. They need plenty of attention too, so it’s a significant commitment to adopt a Tamarin.
Also, keep in mind that Tamarins don’t do well when rehomed or introduced to other monkey subgroups, so there’s no backup plan if you change your mind or are getting older and are considering adopting a Tamarin. If something should happen to you, there’s a good chance that your Tamarin will struggle socially for the rest of their life.
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Before heading out and purchasing a Tamarin, do yourself a favor, and ensure that you have enough time to devote to them and have realistic expectations. They require a great deal of work and are a huge commitment, so it’s best to go into things with eyes wide open.
If you know what to expect and it’s legal in your state, go ahead and adopt one as soon as you have the financial means and can track down a reputable breeder.
Featured Image Credit: ambquinn, Pixabay
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.