In short, they don’t but let’s go into a bit more detail about why not. When capuchin monkeys are babies you won’t experience any issues when they interract with your kids. However, once they reach maturity, they will want to establish dominance over your kids which will end up in injury.
The only way you can keep a monkey when you have kids is to keep them separated which in many cases will end up causing resentment from your child in the first place. Let’s be honest, capuchins are very social animals so you’ll need to spend a lot of time with them which in most cases will make your child jealous. We see this over and over again and in nearly all instances this will end up in a rehome.
While we know of several people that have capuchins and kids, they all agree that monkeys and kids truly don’t mix very well. Our advice and theirs is to wait until your kids are fully grown and out of the house before you buy a capuchin monkey as a pet. Our capuchins swing from tree to tree, something that most home enclosures don’t permit. The lack of natural habitat in a home setting raises much controversy regarding keeping these monkeys at all. Typically, there isn’t nearly enough space or foliage in an average yard to allow the primate proper exercise. That said, the bigger the enclosure, the better. And if you do decide to house a capuchin, make sure it has plenty of trees to swing and jump from, provide a shaded area for shelter from the elements, and be sure it’s monkey-proofed. Even healthy and happy monkeys are curious, and a breakout is inevitable if given the time and an outlet.
In the wild, capuchins eat bugs, fruit, small birds, nuts, and flowers. Mimicking this monkey’s natural diet in captivity can be somewhat tricky. A high-quality, formulated monkey chow provides the bulk of their nutritional needs. Ample outdoor space allows them to forage. Supplement their diet with baby food, fruits, and vegetables (cut to size). A varied diet keeps a monkey interested, especially if you hide it, and they have to search for it. It is best to feed your monkey on a regular schedule and twice per day.
Capuchins also thrive with the occasional cooked meat treat (about 1 teaspoon), but never give them table food, dairy products, or sweets, as this is not part of their natural diet and can lead to health problems. Capuchins are highly social animals and live in large groups or “troops” ranging from 10 to 35 individuals, but often split off into smaller groups for grooming, socialization and foraging. Most species have linear hierarchy, which means both males and females have their own order of dominance, but the alpha male of the troop is always dominant over the alpha female. They are also cooperative in gathering and sharing food within their group. Males are very territorial, and will mark their boundaries using urine to scent, as well as fight to defend their territory and females from other neighboring troops and males looking to challenge the alpha.
Capuchin monkeys apparently breed at any time of year, although in Central America births are more frequent during the dry season. Gestation takes about six months, and births are usually single. Individual females give birth at intervals of one to two years, and the young reach maturity in three to four years. In captivity, capuchin monkeys are easily trained and have been popularly associated with roving performers such as organ grinders. Capuchins—considered the smartest of the New World monkeys—are diurnal (active during the day), social, and territorial. They spend most of their waking hours searching for food, urinating to mark their territory, and hanging out in trees. Most capuchin monkey owners use diapers for the monkey’s entire life and keep them on leashes in and out of the house for both the safety of the monkey and the public.
Trained as service animals until 2010, the American Disabilities Act deemed them a danger to both owners and the public due to disease transmission and aggression. The American Veterinary Medical Association also discourages the use of primates in service, making it difficult to find an exotic vet to treat pet capuchins.
Captive capuchin monkeys are charming as babies and need care much like a human baby. Capuchin babies can form a tight bond with their human mother or father, may need to be bottle-fed for some time (if not forever), and will need the training to be a part of the family. You can hire a specialized monkey trainer, although particular trainers use questionable training methods. Some trainers recommend removing all four canine teeth from the monkey to prevent serious bite injuries down the road. This practice is another debatable issue, and few veterinarians will perform the procedure. Once they reach age 5, they are much harder to handle. A bored monkey may display aggression, biting its owner or someone else. It may also try to escape its enclosure or misbehave—even throwing feces. Aggressive behavior is typical in capuchins and can sometimes occur without prior tendencies.