top of page
Tropical Leaves

Do Lemurs Make Good Pets?

Exotic pets have been the objects of fascination for thousands of years. Less than 30 years ago, people were able to go to pet stores around the country and purchase monkeys for just a few dollars. Laws have changed since then and most states have a ban on owning exotic species. Some states require a permit and a number of hours spent hands-on with animals prior to purchasing. Some states, like Texas, have no requirements at all.
Most of us with exotic animal experience know that ring-tailed lemurs do not make good pets, so why do so many people have them? The answer is simple: we didn’t know or we didn’t listen when advice was given. Some of us thought ours would be different because we would spent all our time with them and socialize them with as many people possible so they would love everyone forever.
The sad truth is that you have no control over instinct. When your loving lemur turns two, everything changes. This is the part that many people do not believe will happen to their “pet.” The degree of change is unique to each lemur but there will be a change.
Females begin to feel it’s time to climb the alpha ladder and males feel its time to protect their territory. Because humans have raised them, they assume you're part of their troop and your home is their territory. They will begin to attack anyone they feel is not a part of the troop, and this means anyone. It usually starts with friends coming over then in many cases escalates to your own family.
Keep in mind, lemurs can live for more than 30 years and at this point you've only been in it for two. Now it’s time to protect everyone from your lemur and protect your lemur from everyone. This is the part that most people don’t want to do. The fun is over and now the work begins: building safe enclosures so no one can stick a finger in and get bitten; making sure no one comes into your house when the lemur's not locked up; no more vacations because no one else can care for them without getting bitten.
Keep in mind the bites are rarely minor. Lemurs have canines sharper than a filet knife and can slice you open faster than a ninja on speed. The bites are deep and usually require stitches; however, if you go to the hospital for stitches and tell them your lemur bit you, they have to contact the police and animal control to report it and at this point, nothing you say can prevent animal control from confiscating your lemur, killing it and testing it for rabies. Even if your lemur has a rabies vaccination, it is not recognized as a sure thing and researchers don’t know if it actually works in primates. The consequences are devastating.

Some of us have decided to completely change our lifestyle to make it work. Some of us experience life-altering events that require us to rehome our beloved pet. Some people simple don’t want the responsibility anymore.
Rehoming a lemur is not an easy process. There are not enough rescues or sanctuaries to accommodate all the lemurs that people don’t want anymore. Selling or giving them to someone with no experience just to get rid of them is by far the worst thing you can do to a lemur.
The best thing you can do is really listen to what I have said and decide whether you have the next 30 years to give this beautiful animal the life it deserves. Lots of sunshine outdoors, room to run and jump and climb, healthy food and a trusted veterinarian with lemur experience. If you're willing to do all that, then you're ready.
Just keep in mind that your lemur isn't a baby, and even though there may be a handful of human-raised lemurs that love everyone, the odds that yours will be the exception are slim to none.
bottom of page