28 feet (8.4m) long enclosure from Gordon Lawless
with 3 cotton-top marmosets in it
A few important
points before you start building a cage :
The bigger the cage the better.
If possible create outdoor enclosures with (if needed) a heated indoor
A cage can never be secured enough, don't underestimate the power of
Many monkeys show signs of boredom in captivity, therefore it's very
important that you change their environment from time to time. Monkeys can spend many
hours exploring their home. Try to use a lot of different items in their home.
A few examples :
Leaves or grass floors
Trees and bushes
Peat, sawdust, straw, dried leaves and wood chip floors
Wooden nest box
You must clean indoor cages (at least) every week. Droppings and excess
food should be removed daily. Some monkeys are known to scent mark their environment (like
marmosets), for these monkeys it's very important that you don't sterilize their cage at
once (clean the nest box and the cage at different times). Use a mild disinfectant
buy this at your local pharmacist) to clean their cage.
When building an outdoor cage don't forget to provide some shade in the
summertime and protection from wind and rain (cover a part of the cage with a roof). Never
use chicken wire. Depending on the specie use stainless steel welded wire (marmosets,
tamarins, squirrels...) or chain link (capuchins, ...). Don't forget that monkeys like
capuchins are very strong animals where a chain link of app. 12 gauge strength should be
used. A safety entrance to prevent monkeys from escaping is certainly not a luxury.
Not only the wide and length of a cage is important but also the height of
the cage can be very important. Even small species like marmosets and tamarins prefer
higher cages (they feel more secured), therefore it's also very important that the next
box is placed as high as possible. The minimum height of a cage for capuchins, guenons,
macaques and even for marmosets and tamarins is about 6 feet high (1.80m), for squirrel
monkeys the minimum height is about 5 feet high (1.50m).
Most primates need unfiltered sunlight (vitamin D3) for their skeletal
development, so if you don't have an outdoor cage maybe it's more then a good idea to use
Vita-Lites (replicate natural sunlight).
The choice of floor type is also very important. You can use a drop tray,
peat, sawdust, straw, dried leaves or wood chip floors for smaller cages. Larger cages are
probably better off with cement floors, floors covered with linoleum, kitchen or bathroom
floors. Some people raise their cage high enough from the ground (wire bottoms) for easy
raking cleanup underneath. This will also prevent a monkey from reaching for food or other
items fallen onto the soil.
When creating a natural environment with lots of plants, don't forget to
use non-toxic plants ! Here are a few examples of non-toxic plants : bamboo, rubber tree,
willows, palm trees, elm, fig, hibiscus, pine, elder and silverberry. But watch out for
toxic plants like American oak tree (European is ok), cedar, mistletoe and pencil tree.
Don't forget to use branches in your in- and/or outdoor cage. Use branches
from for instance salix, pseudoacacia or sambuncus trees. Natural gum is very rich in
vitamin D and Calcium and therefore recommended for most primates. However beware in
spring when the gum is young, it may cause intestine problems.