6 Species of Monkeys Legal To Own as Pets in Tennessee


One of the few U.S. States where it is legal to keep a monkey as a pet is Tennessee. Yes, most primates are legal to own as pets without a permit in the Volunteer State. Primates that are banned from being kept as pets in Tennessee include baboons, drill monkeys, mandrill monkeys, siamangs, gibbons, chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas. These primates are deemed inherently dangerous to humans and may only be possessed by zoos, circuses and commercial propagators in Tennessee. All other primates are considered Class III animals, which can be possessed as pets without a permit in Tennessee. For more information, see Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 Animals in Tennessee.

If you are considering keeping a monkey as a pet in Tennessee, there are a few things you need to know. For starters, monkeys don't make good pets and typically catch and transmit human diseases. Monkeys are undisciplined, loud, and capable of causing too much harm or damage. Furthermore, monkeys need too much care and attention in order to thrive as pets in a human household.

If you wish to own a pet monkey notwithstanding the risks involved, then get your home set up and be ready for a huge commitment. However, before bringing a monkey to your home, you have to have past experience taking care of monkeys. You can gain this experience by volunteering at any monkey or primate rescue center in Tennessee. You can also learn a few things by reading "The Beginner’s Guide to Caring for a Pet Monkey" on WikiHow.

Of over 260 species of monkeys in the world, only a few are commonly kept as pets in the US. These species are relatively small in size and somewhat easy to care for. Some of these species include the:

1. Pygmy Marmoset Monkey

  • Average lifespan: 15 years in captivity
A Pygmy Marmoset monkey

The Pygmy marmoset is a very small New World monkey measuring from 4.6 to 6 inches in head-body length and weighing between 79 g and 64 g, with females being heavier than males. Also referred to as pocket monkeys, Pygmy marmosets are legal to keep as pets without a permit in Tennessee. You can get a Pygmy marmoset for $4,500 in Tennessee.

2. Common Marmoset Monkey

  • Average lifespan: 16 years in captivity
A Common Marmoset monkey

Also known as the white-tufted-ear marmoset, the common marmoset is a very small monkey with an average height of 7.40 inches. While the pygmy marmosets are the lightest true monkeys in the world, common marmosets are the smallest. Common marmosets are highly social primates and might be the loudest of all monkeys.

A common marmoset kept as a pet will yell and scream when it feels neglected. These unique primates are the ones that you will usually see in pet shops across the United States. In Tennessee, common marmosets typically cost between $1,500 and $4,500. You can purchase a common marmoset monkey from Monkeys R Us, a breeder in Rutherford County, Tennessee, that specializes in Marmoset Monkeys and their accessories such as treats, food, and bedding.

3. Capuchin Monkey

  • Average lifespan: 25 in captivity
Two Capuchin Monkeys

Capuchin monkeys are diurnal and are considered the smartest of the New World monkeys. During the day in the wild, Capuchins spend most of their waking hours looking for food and using urine to scent mark their territory. By all accounts, Capuchin monkeys are far less dangerous and easier to care for. Full-grown Capuchins measure between 12 and 22 inches in body length. Furthermore, a Capuchin monkey may very well be happy in your home if you provide it with everything it needs to thrive. 

In Tennessee, Capuchin monkeys typically cost between $5,000 and $7,000 and up to $12,000, depending on the size, age, and breeder. Capuchin and Marmoset monkeys are more popular as pets in Tennessee than any other species listed in this article.

4. Squirrel Monkey

  • Average lifespan: 20 years in captivity
A Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel monkeys are very small, cute New World monkeys generally reaching up to 14 inches in body length and weighing just from 1 to 3 pounds, with a tail of approximately 16 inches. Squirrel monkeys are highly energetic and acrobatic creatures and therefore need a lot of space more so than most pet owners are able to provide. In addition, Squirrel monkeys are highly vocal and are deemed to be one of the cleverest monkeys in the world. By all accounts, pet Squirrel monkeys are highly affectionate, playful, and genuinely enjoy spending time with their owners. In Tennessee, Squirrel Monkeys range in price from $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the seller.

5. Tamarin Monkey

  • Average lifespan: 20 years in captivity
An Emperor Tamarin Monkey

Tamarins are squirrel-sized New World monkeys that are commonly kept as pets across the country. Captive tamarins, especially captive Emperor tamarins, are very social and interactive with humans. Though tamarin monkeys are often kept as pets in Tennessee, they aren't as popular as marmosets. Acquiring a pet tamarin monkey in Tennessee can cost you between $1,500 and $2,500 each depending on the species, age, rarity, and temperament.

6. Macaque Monkey

  • Average lifespan: 25 years in captivity

Two Japanese macaques

There are more than twenty species of macaque monkeys. Captive macaques enjoy spending the majority of their time foraging, resting, and allogrooming. A pet macaque requires a lot of space to play, jump, and will, for its entire life, need to wear diapers. In Tennessee, the price of Macaque monkeys ranges from $4,000 to $8,000.


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