Monkeys are cute and intelligent animals that some people consider keeping as pets. However, before getting a monkey, an important question to ask is: do pet monkeys stink?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Yes, pet monkeys can and do stink. They naturally have a strong and distinct odor that comes from their diet, environment, and bodily functions. Proper care and maintenance can help reduce but not eliminate monkey odors.

In this comprehensive article, we will dive into the reasons why pet monkeys develop unpleasant smells, how bad and tolerable the smells can be, and steps owners can take to control smells and cleanliness.

Dietary Causes of Monkey Odors

Fruit-Based Diets

Fruits make up a large part of many pet monkeys’ diets. While fruits provide important vitamins and nutrients, they also contain natural sugars that get metabolized into strong-smelling compounds. As the sugars are broken down in the monkey’s digestive system, they produce pungent acids like butyric acid that have a rancid odor.

The more fruit the monkey eats, the more these smelly compounds build up and get excreted through the skin, urine and feces, leading to a pervasive fruity funk.

Some fruits like durian and jackfruit contain sulfur compounds that impart their own unique stench. Eating these fruits compounds the problem by adding another layer of stinkiness to the monkey’s bodily excretions.

To reduce fruit-related odors, pet owners can limit high-sugar fruits and provide more vegetables, leafy greens, seeds and nuts to balance the diet.

Lack of Bathroom Manners

Unlike dogs or cats, monkeys are not easily housebroken and have no natural inclination to use a litter box. Allowing them free range of the home means they will likely relieve themselves wherever they please. Feces and urine soaked into carpets, furniture and fabrics will make the whole house reek.

Dried urine also releases pungent ammonia gases that permeate the air.

Owners can try to mitigate this by training monkeys to use crates or diapers. But accidents are still bound to happen. Thoroughly cleaning soiled areas with enzymatic cleaners instead of just masking odors with air fresheners is important.

Allowing outdoor time in a secure enclosure can also minimize indoor bathroom incidents.

Ultimately, a monkey’s natural bathroom habits make it difficult to have a smell-free home. Their strong urine and feces odor will inevitably be an issue that requires constant vigilance and cleaning to control.

Grooming and Territory Marking

Grooming and territory marking are important natural behaviors for pet monkeys. As highly social and intelligent animals, monkeys have complex social structures and ways of communicating within their troops. Understanding these behaviors in pet monkeys can help owners better care for their needs.


In the wild, monkeys spend hours each day grooming themselves and each other. This serves several purposes:

  • Removing dirt, dead skin, and parasites from their fur
  • Strengthening social bonds within the troop
  • Relieving stress and anxiety

Pet monkeys need adequate time for self-grooming each day. Their living space should include surfaces like branches or ropes for climbing and holding onto during grooming. Monkeys also often enjoy being groomed by their owners. This can be an important bonding activity.

However, proper handling techniques are essential to avoid bites or scratches.

Territory Marking

Monkeys communincate information about social status, mating availability, and territory boundaries by scent marking their environments. In the wild, they use urine and gland secretions, but pet monkeys will also mark their territory around the home with feces and food.

To reduce messy territory marking, pet monkeys should have:

  • A sufficient living space with vertical climbing areas they can call their own.
  • Adequate mental stimulation and foraging/food-related activities.
  • Consistent daily routines and interactions with owners.

Territorial marking tends to increase with stress, anxiety, or insecure social bonds. A calm, enriched home environment and plenty of affection from the owner helps minimize obsessive marking behaviors.

While marking is a natural monkey behavior, owners should try to redirect frequent marking to appropriate times/places. Pee pads, litter boxes, or outdoor areas can be designated as “ok” for marking. Any aggressive or anxious behaviors should be discussed with an exotics vet.

Health and Medical Causes

Dental Issues

Like humans, monkeys can suffer from poor dental health leading to halitosis (bad breath). Gum disease, tooth decay and abscesses are common in pet monkeys fed inappropriate diets high in sugar. This allows plaque to build up, irritating gums and providing an environment for bacteria to thrive in the mouth.

Infections like periodontitis can then spread to the bone, causing severe pain and that characteristic foul, rotting odor.

Lack of proper veterinary dental care also contributes to dental disease. Pet monkeys should have annual dental exams but often don’t due to the risks of sedation and the costs involved. Early signs of dental problems like reddened swollen gums, face swelling and loss of appetite often go unnoticed by owners.

Skin Conditions

Monkeys are susceptible to skin infections, parasites like mange mites, and allergies leading to inflamed, infected skin that gives off a strong, sickly odor. Irritated areas are likely to be scratched open, providing an entry point for bacteria.

A common condition is pyoderma, a bacterial infection causing purulent skin lesions and crusty scabs with a stench of infection.

Much like humans, monkeys also suffer from body odor if unable to properly clean themselves due to obesity, arthritis, dental pain or other health issues. Their fur traps odors from urine, feces and oily secretions from glands scattered around their body.

An unkempt, matted coat only worsens the smell.

Managing Cleanliness and Odors

Proper Enclosure Cleaning

Keeping a pet monkey’s enclosure clean is crucial for managing odors and promoting good health. Here are some tips for proper cleaning:

  • Clean the enclosure at least once a day by removing soiled bedding, uneaten food, and feces. Scrub surfaces with a disinfectant cleaner.
  • Wash food and water bowls daily with hot, soapy water. Rinse and air dry completely.
  • Replace soiled substrate, like wood shavings or straw, twice a week. Spot clean daily.
  • Disinfect hard surfaces weekly with a diluted bleach solution (1 part bleach to 32 parts water). Rinse thoroughly.
  • Clean outdoor enclosures by hosing down surfaces and replacing soiled ground cover regularly.

Following a regular cleaning routine keeps your pet’s living space fresh and reduces odors.


Frequent grooming helps keep your pet monkey clean and reduces natural body odors. Here are some tips for keeping your monkey’s coat tidy:

  • Brush your monkey’s fur daily if possible. This removes dirt, distributes skin oils, and aerates the coat.
  • Give baths every 1-2 weeks using a mild pet or baby shampoo. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Trim overgrown hair that can trap dirt. Be very careful not to nick skin.
  • Check for parasites like ticks during grooming. Remove any found with tweezers.
  • Clean face, hands, and bottom daily with a warm, damp washcloth.

Regular grooming not only keeps your pet smelling fresh, but also strengthens your bond.

Odor Eliminators

Even with diligent cleaning, some natural monkey odors may persist. Here are ways to tackle lingering smells:

  • Place bowls of baking soda or activated charcoal in the enclosure to absorb odors.
  • Mist vinegars on surfaces to counteract odors – white vinegar tackles urine smells.
  • Burn candles made with essential oils like lemon or eucalyptus nearby.
  • Diffuse pet-safe essential oils in the room.
  • Place air purifiers with activated carbon filters in the area.

If odors persist despite your best efforts, take your monkey to the vet to rule out any medical issues causing increased smell.

When to Be Concerned About Smells

Owning a pet monkey can be a rewarding but challenging experience. While they are intelligent and affectionate animals, proper care is essential. One aspect many owners underestimate is the potential for unpleasant smells.

Monkeys are fastidiously clean animals who groom themselves constantly. However, they can still give off odors for various reasons. Here are some tips on understanding when monkey smells may indicate an underlying issue:

Poor Diet

A monkey’s diet significantly impacts their scent. In the wild, monkeys eat a diverse mix of fruits, vegetables, insects and small vertebrates. This provides all the nutrients they need. Without variety, captive monkeys may develop nutritional deficiencies that affect their smell.

Lack of vitamin B12, for instance, can cause a fishy odor. Insufficient vitamin C leads to more pungent urine and sweat. Evaluate your pet’s diet and consult an exotic veterinarian to correct any imbalances.

Improper Hygiene

Monkeys are fastidiously clean animals. In natural settings, they spend up to 25% of their day grooming! This self-care helps regulate scent. Problems arise when captive monkeys cannot properly clean themselves.

Cage design is crucial. Oversized cages with hard-to-reach corners can accumulate waste and dirt. Small, sterile enclosures also inhibit natural grooming behaviors. Provide an optimally enriched habitat and accessories like monkey shampoo.

Regular grooming and bathing sessions further prevent odor. Just be sure to use specialized monkey shampoos, which maintain their sensitive skin’s pH levels.


When anxious or distressed, monkeys produce more pungent body odors. Changes in smell can therefore signal underlying welfare issues.

Common stressors include loneliness, lack of mental stimulation, and fear of humans. Ensure your monkey gets ample socialization and enrichment. Develop a trusting bond through positive interactions and training.

Also monitor for signs of pain or illness, which are stressful. Schedule regular veterinary checkups to quickly address any health concerns.

Scent Marking

Scent marking is when monkeys rub bodily secretions like urine or glandular fluid on surfaces. It serves social purposes like designating territory and displaying dominance.

Though natural behavior, scent marking can create disagreeable smells in the home. Neutering your monkey can help reduce territorial urges.

Also ensure your monkey feels secure in their environment. Provide plenty of vertical space, hiding spots, and engage in daily social bonding.

With attentive care and prompt veterinary guidance, you can minimize undesirable odors in pet monkeys. Their natural smells are a small price to pay for the incredible companionship monkeys provide when properly nurtured.


In the end, while monkeys naturally have distinct scents and odors, responsible ownership and proper care can help minimize unpleasant smells from building up over time. If you plan for cleanliness and general monkey stink, owning one as a unique pet can still be enjoyable and rewarding.

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