The word “monkey” describes 264 distinct species, each with unique characteristics, including size and weight. Since so many different monkeys exist, there is no single average or usual monkey weight. They can roughly be described as small, or under 15 pounds; medium, or between about 15 and 30 pounds; and large, or 30 pounds and over.

Monkeys are found throughout the world, mostly in tropical areas. Catarrhini are found in Africa and Asia, while platyrrhini mostly call Central and South America home. Most monkeys live in tropical areas, particularly in forests. Monkeys do, however, vary in the types of environments in which they thrive. Baboons, for example, live in places that are more arid, or dry, in the southern countries of Africa, where it can also get cooler. The Japanese macaque, covered in thick white-ish hair, is one of the northernmost surviving monkeys, living where there can be snow for months in parts of northern Japan. Some of them do so by relaxing in hot mountain springs. Meanwhile, the golden-headed lion tamarin lives in a low area of Brazil, where there’s lots of rain and the average temperature is over 80 degrees fahrenheit. The lion tamarin also spends its life in the trees, specifically between 10 and 30 feet off the ground, while a baboon will usually only go to high places, such as cliffs, to sleep and get away from predators.

Monkeys are as varied in shape and size as humans. The world’s smallest monkey is the pygmy marmoset, according to the University of Wisconsin. It weights only around 4 ounces (113 grams) and is only around 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) tall. The world’s largest monkey is the mandrill. It weights around 77 pounds (35 kilograms) and is around 3 feet (1 meter) tall.

 Top Monkey Facts

  • Monkeys at risk: out of over 250 species, only one type of monkey was listed as being of “least concern” for extinction!
  • Born tree: some monkeys can swing through branches as fast as a racehorse!
  • Hanging out: Unlike their cousins, the apes, monkeys often have long tails–but only new world monkeys can use them to hang!
  • Pocket-sized: the world’s smallest monkey, the pygmy marmoset, is less than six inches long and weighs less than a pack of playing cards!
  • Mega-sized: the world’s largest monkeys can reach significant sizes. For example, male mandrills have reached 119 pounds in size!
  • While the thought of a pet monkey may seem nice, they are illegal to own in most states.

Anatomy Of A Monkey

Agile and lean, capuchin monkeys weigh only 3 – 9 pounds (1.36 – 4.9 kilograms). The fur of the capuchin monkey varies, but is most commonly seen with cream or light tan coloring around the face, neck and shoulders. The rest of its coat is dark brown. The hair is shorter and darker on the capuchin’s back than on other parts of its body. The face of this cute monkey will range from white to pink in color. The tail is long, covered in hair and is partially able to wrap around branches.

Habits & Habitat Of A Monkey

Most monkeys live in trees, but there are some that live in savannas or mountain areas. Monkey tribes stay on the move to find food, so one location isn’t home for very long.

Monkeys are very social creatures. Groups of monkeys are called missions, tribes, troops or cartloads. A troop will work together to take care of the young monkeys in the group. They also like to play, cuddle and protect each other.

The strongest and largest of the male monkeys is the leader of the troop. In monkey genus groups that practice polygyny, the leader will mate with multiple females.


Many people think that monkeys just eat bananas, but that isn’t true. Monkeys are omnivores. This means that they eat meat and plant-based foods. Most monkeys eat nuts, fruits, seeds and flowers. Some monkeys also eat meat in the form of bird’s eggs, small lizards, insects and spiders.

Popular Pet Monkeys

Monkey species commonly kept as pets are usually small and medium-size, ranging from a quarter of a pound for the pygmy marmoset to 35 pounds for the Celebes or Java macaques. Among the most popular pet monkeys are the vervet at 4 to 15 pounds, common and silvery marmosets at three quarters of a pound to 1 pound, the squirrel monkey at around 2 pounds, and the spider monkey at 13 to 25 pounds.

Are Monkeys Dangerous?

Monkeys can be dangerous as pets, transmitting disease and giving nasty bites, but the risk is relatively small. From 1990 to 2013, the Humane Society had documented 275 attacks from “captive primates” in the U.S., none of which caused death. The majority of monkeys in the wild are shy, preferring to hide from humans rather than confront them.

Can You Have A Monkey As A Pet?

Caring for a monkey is complicated, and a number of states in the U.S. and other countries prohibit or limit who can own a monkey. For example, Alabama allows monkeys as pets; New Hampshire bans monkeys as pets; and Idaho allows monkey ownership, provided you have a special permit.

Are Chimpanzees Monkeys?

Chimpanzees are actually part of a separate classification of primates, called “great apes.” Great apes are a small group of primates that share many features with monkeys, but are larger, smarter and tail-less. Great apes also share a closer genetic connection to humans. The chimpanzees, particularly, are humans’ closest genetic relative, sharing 99 percent of our genetic code!

Are Monkeys Herbivores, Carnivores, Or Omnivores?

Monkeys are Omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals.

What Kingdom Do Monkeys Belong To?

Monkeys belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

Conservation Status

While many monkey species are not in danger, there are some that are very close to extinction. For example there are only 150 Tonkin Snub-Nosed monkeys in existence. Another monkey on the list is the Tana River Red Colobus. There are fewer than 1,000 of these monkeys left in the world. Both are listed on the 25 Most Endangered Primates list published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission Primate Specialist Group.

The Hainan Black-Crested Gibbon is considered one of the most critically endangered species. There are only 20 of these monkeys left in the world.

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