My son is more than just obsessed with monkeys. This started after a visit to the local zoo one summer when he was still very young.
A while back, I had to continually hear about how he would absolutely love having a pet monkey. Since there are 260 different species, my son thought he had a lot of options.
“They are just the cutest, mom.” Sure they are, but not exactly a practical pet, right?
I decided that my son can virtually adopt a monkey, and this is for a good cause too since he’ll help protect these primates.
After a long discussion and looking at virtual pet monkey options, we wondered how long these mammals live. And do they live longer when they’re in the wild or when they’re in captivity?
How Long Monkeys Live?
The Philippine tarsier lives as short as 2-12 years. The Goeldi’s marmoset lives 10 years. Most other monkey species live between 15-20 years, with other species living 20+ years, even if they live in the wild. The Guinea baboon lives 35-45 years. The Cynomolgus monkey lives 25-30 years in the wild and 38 years minimum in captivity.
Lifespan of Monkeys
The life expectancy of a monkey is dependent on whether they live in the wild or in captivity. The species of the monkey is another factor.
Smaller monkeys generally don’t live as long as their larger monkey counterparts.
Lifespan of Monkeys in the Wild
In the wild, the average lifespan of medium to large-sized monkeys is 15-20 years, while the life expectancy of smaller monkeys is generally around 10-15 years. There are exceptions, like the Philippine tarsier that can live as little as 2 years in the wild.
Monkeys, in general, have a long lifespan in comparison to many other animals, because they are smart, their lifestyle is pretty chilled, and they can get away from predators.
As long as monkeys have an abundance of food, are safe from disease, and don’t fall prey to predators like lions, wild cats, tigers, and more, then they can live a long life.
Lifespan of Monkeys in Captivity
In captivity where monkeys are protected and taken care of, their life expectancy increases by a minimum of 5 years.
However, in most cases, a monkey in captivity lives a decade or longer than its lifespan in the wild.
Monkey Life Expectancy According to Species
Here are some life expectancy figures of 19 monkey species:
- Guinea baboon (according to an Old World classification, this is a monkey): 35-45 years
- Cynomolgus monkey (also known as the crab-eating macaque): 25-30 years in the wild; 38 years in captivity
- Japanese macaque: 27 years
- Gray langurs: 25 years in the wild; 30+ years in captivity
- Spider monkey: 24-27 years in the wild; 33 years in captivity
- Tibetan macaque: 20+ years
- Lion-tailed macaque: 20 years in the wild; 38 years in captivity
- Mandrill: 20 years in the wild; 31-46 years in captivity
- Colobus monkeys: 20 years in the wild; 29 years in captivity
- Capuchin monkey: 15-25 years in the wild; in captivity 50 years
- Rhesus macaque: 15-20 years (males); 20-25 years (females)
- Black howler: 15-20 years
- Black-mantled tamarin: 15 years
- Squirrel monkey: 15 years in the wild; 20+ in captivity
- Vervet monkeys: 12-30 years in the wild
- Proboscis monkey: 13 years in the wild; 30 years in captivity
- Pygmy marmoset: 12 years in the wild; 18 years in captivity
- Goeldi’s marmoset/monkey: 10 years
- Philippine tarsier: 2-12 years
Meet the Longest Living Monkey
I learned that the world’s oldest monkey is believed to be a black spider monkey called Buenos. She lived to be 53 years and passed away from heart trouble in March 2005.
The center where Buenos lived was preparing to apply for the Guinness Book of World Records; unfortunately, the monkey died before this could actualize.
In captivity, black spider monkeys have an average life expectancy of 30-33 years.
Frequently Asked Questions about How Long Monkeys Live
How long do monkeys live as pets?
Monkeys don’t make the easiest pets, but if they are well looked after, they can live to be 20-40 years old. These primates need a lot of attention and a lifetime of commitment as they essentially stay naughty kids/teenagers.
What monkey has a short lifespan?
The pygmy marmoset, natively found in the western Amazon Basin in South America, is the smallest primate and monkey in the world, weighing just more than 3.5 ounces (about 100 grams). It has a short lifespan (for monkeys) of 12 years. These monkeys are known to fall out of trees, and this factor is what leads to their often interrupted lifespan. A Goeldi’s marmoset has an even shorter life expectancy at 10 years, while a Philippine tarsier can live as little as 2 years and as long as 12.
Do monkeys age like humans?
A human’s and monkey’s DNA is a close match, and data that’s been analyzed from 7 wild primate species illustrates that in aging, monkeys and humans are very much the same. In general, humans age a lot slower than animals, but primates like monkeys, chimpanzees, apes, etc. are the exception.
The Last Monkey
Monkeys are fascinating animals and will always be since we humans share over 90% of our DNA with our primate cousins.
While monkeys don’t make the most practical of pets, it is important to understand how long they live, especially if you are considering virtual adoption to help protect and save these mammals.
My son loves being a virtual pet owner. The photo he received of Coco, his virtual marmoset monkey, is proudly displayed above his bed.
He hopes his contribution will help his marmoset live longer than the mere 12 years that’s expected.