By Mary Lynn Campbell

monkey toys

Olivia – 5 Weeks Old

Happy New Year From Primate Care. We are excited to start 2018 with a post about monkey toys. All monkeys love toys from the very beginning of their lives. In my book “Living With Monkeys”, which is for sale on our sister site, I wrote about helping baby monkeys to not bite by offering things for them to chew on instead of your fingers, hands and hair. Yes, even your hair can become one of their favorite play things. Monkeys love to chew on everything.

When Bob and I were raising Silly Willy and he started to put his mouth on us, I knew it was time to offer him something to put his mouth on instead of us. Baby monkeys are not able to hold extremely large toys, so I went through the house and gathered things that I felt would fit into his small hands and then put small dishes full of these things into the rooms of the house that he was taken into.

The things that I chose to put into the dishes were things like: plastic Bic pen tops, medium size springs, medium size washers, large paper clips, medium key rings, plastic rings that are used to hang toys on baby cribs, plastic coke bottle caps, milk bottle caps, and any other small safe things that I could find. Of course, I washed these toys frequently to ensure that they were safe for my little guy.

I have also learned from many other monkey caregivers that some babies come with even more of a “mouthy problem” than Silly Willy came with and that their monkeys chose to put their mouth on everyone’s hands every time their baby monkey was being handle

. I know this must be a challenging behavior as a caregiver is trying to train their baby monkey to not do this. Due to this being such a problem, the little ones will become very hard to deal with when languaging with them using the word ‘NO’ so often.

In My Book I Speak About Languaging

This is the short phrases or set of words that we use to talk to our new babies. This language that we first use will continue to be a big part of their lives forever. Many monkeys that have extreme alpha personalities will pick up on the word ‘NO’ and choose to not respond to the phrases like,”no bite or no face, or even no touch.” These types of monkeys can show signs of anger every time the word ‘NO” is used. I am so blessed that Silly Willy was never this type of monkey. He continues to responds quickly to the phrases that we started early in his life.

The small dish of toys works wonders with the baby monkeys. When you are properly reading the energy of your baby monkey, you will learn to simply reach for a toy and you can change a bad mood or their desire to focus on something that you wish for them not to be focused on. These dishes of toys can and will be a very helpful thing in your life as you are raising your baby monkey. You may even come up with your own way of using the dish of toys to help you with other things that will be helpful as you are raising your baby monkey. Also, may I say, please pray to not get an extremely hard-headed monkey, one who will not listen to you about anything. LOL

capuchin playing with beads
Photo of Silly Willy’s Toy Dish
The beads were placed near the dish for color in the photo.

What About Buying Monkey Toys And About Their Safety

When we find out that a new monkey is coming into our lives, we get so excited and begin getting ready for them.  Buying toys is always on that all important shopping list. But how do we begin to buy these monkey toys?

How To Buy A Great Monkey Toy That Is Safe (And Helpful Information About Safety Issues For Toys)

  1. The toy should match up with the age of your monkey.
  2. The toy should be made with heavier duty plastic if you are adopting an older monkey who has adult teeth.
  3. Baby teeth are like needles but the size of their mouths are so much smaller than fully grown monkeys, so the plastic does not need to be as heavy duty as the plastic needs to be for a fully grown monkey.
  4. Remember that monkeys fingers can get caught in moving parts on many of the elaborate types of toys. Please use good common sense when purchasing these types of toys for a monkey, no matter what the age of the monkey.
  5. Monkeys are not children and they are not dogs either, so when shopping for toys remember this.
  6. Because plastic toys are not totally monkey proof from them being able to put bite marks into the toy, you may choose to use stainless steel toys as toys for your older monkeys who have their adult teeth. These have become the only type of toys that my Silly Willy is able to have in his area to play with. He proved to be a chewier from a very early age and I found that it is very true that none of the plastics were strong enough for his big strong teeth, so he has missed out on playing with all of the neat toys that the other monkeys can play with.
  7. Any of the toys that are purchased must be washed thoroughly.
  8. When you choose to clean out your monkey’s area, it is a good habit to take the current toys that he or she has been playing with out and change these out for new toys. This also is a great time to inspect each toy for damage.
  9. Toys that have been given as gifts for your monkey should be examined carefully for safety before you give them to him or her.
  10. Many toys such as stuffed toys or musical toys can come with attached ribbons or fabric straps. These things must be properly removed and not left to dangle or loop when you put them in their cages. These are very dangerous for all ages and types of monkeys.

Monkeys Absolutely Love Colorful Things In Their Lives And Toys Which Have Movement

No matter what age of monkey that you might bring home, they will love their toys to be colorful and should be small enough for them to be able to handle easily. Many of your wonderfully selected toys can stay with you for years. In order, for them to remain with you they need to match up in safety with the size, age and the size of your monkey’s teeth.

Creating A Safe Play Space For Monkeys

Many of us monkey caregivers spend a great amount of time planning for our monkey’s cages. The things that are going to be tied need to be safely tied. Things that are going to be hung from the top of a play cage should also be hung properly so that they will absolutely not fall onto your monkey as they are jumping and playing on the floor of the cage. I personally believe that it is not necessary to over-fill a play area or cage.

If I am building a play habitat for a small type of monkey then I do not feel comfortable with any thing being put upon the top of the cage but hammocks or a soft boxes. Many toys we might think about choosing are much larger than the monkey who is going to enjoy them. Therefore, the proper size of the toys is very important not only for the monkey but for the size of the wire of the cage.

When connecting the toys, we must remember to think ahead of time about what is going to be the safest place to attach them and also the strongest. Making frequent changes in the location of the toys is always great enrichment for our monkeys.

I especially like to use PVC pipes for perches but to put them up safely they need to have holes drilled into the end of the pipes to anchor them to the cage with strong wire. There are many individuals that manufacturer some wonderful hanging PVC toys for monkeys. Some of these are for sale on Remember when using these toys that are made to hang from the ceiling or top of a large cage, that you will need to attach them properly and vow to check them often for safety. The hanging type of PVC toys will often be designed to have movement for our monkeys so with this in mind these toys will need to be checked repeatedly.

Many caregivers will use ropes in their monkey’s habitats. All ropes must not have extra length given to cause them to drape. The rope should be pulled tight or at least almost tight. A good idea is to send a photo of your monkey’s cage or space to a experienced monkey caregiver. An accident in their play areas is one of the most common type of accident that can happen to our monkeys. The loss of a monkey in their safe space is a terrible way to loose them especially when we felt that their space was safe. Monkeys play with things differently from the way a human baby would play with them so an extra pair of “Safety-First Eyes,” is always a great idea to have before you share the space with your monkey.

Smaller Monkeys Need Smaller Toys

The smaller breeds of monkeys are so full of jumpy, flippy and erratic types of movements. Since they have smaller bodies, they need much smaller toys and their play cages must be designed with special care. The hammocks that have four thin straps and a snap hook, which is on the end to put it onto the cage wire, has never been one of my favorite types of hammocks. To me I would rather use a hammock that is connected very close to the top of the cage or use a blanket to make a hammock with so that it is also connected through the wires of the cage than to use the small hammock straps. When they are flying through their cages something that looks safe can become an object to create an accident. We must always remember that we must create the perfect safe-space for them no matter their size. We must read and learn what others have experienced with their small breed of monkey so you can have a peace of mind when you leave your monkeys alone.

I check and re-check everything in my monkey’s world before I leave my home. But then, the final thing that I do is to ask God to bless our home and put a protective circle around our world.

small monkey toys
These are the toys that were in my Chewie’s cage (he was a marmoset who lived to be 20 ½ years old.) Even though he was blind in one eye and he was not able to move due to arthritis, he still seemed to enjoy his toys being in his cage.

These same toys are now being used for our newest addition to the troop of monkeys that we live with. She is an amazing little lady. Meet our Squirrel monkey who is so special to us already.

Chewie (age 20)

squirrel monkey baby
Kizzy (age 1 1/2)

Words Of Safety And Help From My First Teacher About Monkey Care: He said,“Please remember to check and re-check everything that keeps our monkeys safe often.” So, when you step back and look over your monkey’s new habitat, please take time to view everything with your “Safety-First Eyes.

A monkey’s teeth can damage plastics which are not heavy duty types of plastics. With this in mind, my preferred place to buy monkey toys is from thrift stores or rummage sales. This way if the toy does not turn out to be a good toy for them, I at least do not have much money invested in it. The main things to remember is that a great toy can become a bad toy within a few minutes. It is important to match up the right size of toy with the size of your primate. When you do not size the toys properly with them, they can become a dangerous toy within moments of you presenting them to your monkey.

Baby Toys
(for monkeys from birth to 18 months depending on the breed of your monkey)

The baby toys that will be helpful to have on hand when a new baby monkey comes home with you should be small toys. Below you will see some of the types of toys to have on hand for your little one. Some of these toys will be ones that you will keep for a long time but then others will be with you for a very short time due to those little needle teeth which will do damage to them. You will know when it is time to discard them by remembering to check the toys frequently after your baby monkey has used them.

Photos of Baby Toys

monkey baby toys

monkey baby toys

The photos above are the size of toys that can be used with a baby monkey (like a Capuchin) or a smaller breed of monkeys. The top photo has toys that can be handled with small hands, and the bottom photo is of toys for a growing baby.

The types of toys you use will need to change as your baby monkey begins to grow and mature. By doing this, it will stimulate them as they are enjoying the toys with sound, cranking movement, music, and mirrors. By choosing to change the growing baby monkey’s toys, you will be able to begin stimulating them with many exciting toys, such as toys with music, mirrors, flashing lights
and neat new balls.

Please also remember if you have two monkeys in the cage together that it would be best to either remove all toys from the cage or only use very small toys in the cage with them. This is due to them possibly dropping a heavy toy upon one of the two playing monkeys heads.

Toys With Mirrors, Movement, and Wonderful Balls

monkey toys with mirrors

monkey toys balls

The monkeys begin to love both of these types of playthings and can be added to their assortment of toys for the younger and smaller monkeys when you feel that it is time. I believe that it is a good idea to still keep the smaller toys during the early time of their lives.

Toddler Monkey Toys
(for monkeys who are growing physically and maturing sexually)

As the baby monkey grows and changes into this next stage of life, many of their toys will need too change in order to accommodate their changes in their size, their strength, and the size of their teeth, and of course to also accommodate their changing intelligence and emotional growth. Many things can begin to change soon after they turn 18 months old. In my “Living With Monkeys” book I talk about a monkey’s programming. In the stage of “Toddler-Hood” you begin to see how well you have raised your monkey.

toddler monkey
Silly Willy When He Became A “Toddler Monkey”

Toddler Toys

toddler monkey toys

toddler monkey toys movement
Medium And Smaller Type Colorful Toys With Movement

These toys that you were using with your baby monkey will still be good to use during the first part of their “Toddler-Hood” years.   But, when their teeth begin to come out and be replaced with their adult teeth, these will need to be replaced with stronger types of plastic toys.

plastic monkey toys

plastic monkey toy set

These types of toys will be perfect for the monkeys before and during the early part of them cutting their adult teeth. The plastic is much more durable and harder for them to chew into. The elephant ears on this type of toys is a softer plastic so if you choose this toy be aware of this part of this toy.

For Capuchin monkeys they can begin cutting teeth between four and five years old. There are many things that might happen during this time. The chewing of things is of course, a way of helping them relieve the discomfort of their bigger teeth trying to cut through their gums. As with children, it could take almost a year to a year and a half or more for all of their teeth to come in. They can experience temperatures during this time and become very uncomfortable and cranky too.

Many changes will be going on during this time due to them being in the stage of “Toddler-Hood.” Cutting teeth, growing larger, and teeter-tottering between wanting to be all grown up and then the next moment wanting to be a baby monkey again are all part of this stage of their life. It can be an easy time or a difficult time. I tell people to be prepared for all types of behaviors due to there being so many things taking place with them during this time.

capuchin big boy teeth
Silly Willy As He Began To Get His Big Boy Teeth


It was such an exciting time when the day came for us to pick Silly Willy up from the breeder. This was going to be the first monkey that Bob and I were going to raise together. We both feel that we were very successful in doing this and we have our special ten-year old little guy to love and be proud of. As we are sitting here together reflecting on the past ten years both of us know the one thing that has always been an extremely big problem with raising him and that is his chewing problem.

When Silly Willy was four and a half, he had to have gas to remove plastic from around his K-9’s twice within six months. Those big old K-9’s changed his world and ours as well.

Everything that was around him had to be changed. It broke our hearts to take all of his toys away from him but this is exactly what we had to do.

What did I do about this new problem?

Well, as it was, during this period of time is when Bob and I made friends with Danny and Lisa Covington who had Tiki who turned out to be Silly Willy’s half brother (the brothers were actually 4 days apart in age). They were so helpful with the toy chewing problem.

Tiki’s big boy teeth had come in around six months before Silly Willy’s, so they had figured out what they had to do and passed the information on to us. We could only use metal or stainless steel kitchen or cook-wear for the two boys. The great news is that we stopped having to take Silly Willy to the vet and my predicament with finding safe toys for my chewing boy monkey began.

You should see Lisa and I out shopping for monkey toys for our two half-brothers. They are not so colorful but they are very strong. We both know that to keep them safe, pots and pans are the very best toys for them.

capuchin adult teeth baby teeth capuchin
Little Silly Willy’s Teeth To Big Silly Willy’s Teeth

Stainless Toys For Chewing Monkeys

stainless steel monkey toys
Some Of My Collection Of Toys  For My Big Chewing Silly Willy.

Teenage And Adult Monkey Toys
(the time after monkeys are fully grown and become adults in their emotional growth)

As monkeys proceed into this next stage in their lives, they can develop attitudes about their toys and show emotions such as anger, aggression, boredom, and become very destructive to them. They can also be the most loving and gentle spirited creatures of God. I wish to encourage you to be prepared no matter how your monkey may grow into being that you always take time out to change out their toys for new ones.

During their lifetimes you will need to totally re-create your entire play area many times. Monkeys need all types of stimulation. My monkeys are real lovers of their TV and their animal movies so during this time you may need to get busy creating an environment to keep your monkey being physically and mentally stimulated with their toys and environment. I am always looking for good monkey toys and stocking up on batteries for the modern toys which have music and lights.

musical monkey toys
Musical and Light-up Toys

graveyard monkey toys

primate musical toys
Check Out The Adult Teeth Marks

These Are All Toys That Must Go To The Toy Graveyard

Monkey Toys Are Always Going To Be Apart Of Your Monkey’s Life: This is something that my first monkey caregiver teacher did not tell me. The toys have changed so much in my years with monkeys, they are sophisticated and are much safer for children but this is not necessarily true for monkeys. I feel that the safety issues with these toys have increased especially with those toys that have so many small gaps where a monkey can get their fingers into.

Make sure that battery compartments can’t be opened by them so they won’t swallow a piece of a battery, plastic, metal, or maybe even a deadly piece of a magnet. Monkeys must have constant supervision or when we cannot be present, we must leave them in their safe space with safe toys.

washing monkey toys
Washing and Drying Toys

We hope we were able to teach you about the problems that might arise with the toys you might be thinking of purchasing for your monkeys.  We wish only for your dollars to be spent on toys which will be safe and fun for your monkey to play with.

Choose to Become a Great Monkey Caregiver

Thank you for visiting us here at Primate Care. We are committed to bringing good information for you to think about and share with your family, friends, and other monkey caregivers. In the next posting on the Primate Care Site we will be talking about “Building a great monkey habitat”

Written by Mary Lynn Campbell author of  “Living With Monkeys”

christmas squirrel monkey
Mary Lynn and Pixie

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