Tiny Finger Monkeys

You might be wondering what in the world is a finger monkey! In fact, its name itself gives it away! First, a finger monkey is a primate. Second, it gets the first part of its name due to it being finger size in length! If you haven’t seen it – well, you’ll have to just believe me! This cute little primate hugs and grips on to your finger so tight that it pulls your heartstrings and you wish you could take it home with you. Finger monkeys are, as a matter of fact, pygmy marmosets. They are also known by the names ‘pocket monkey’ and ‘tiny lion’.

An adult finger monkey has a furry body, generally of a tawny coloring with black flecks. Its underbelly, however, is either creamish or white in color. This primate sports a lion mane-like fur around its head (that’s why they are also called ‘tiny lion’). Their eyes are almond-shaped. Their black-ringed tail forms a major portion of its 13-14 inch long body. The head and body together measures only 5 inches, however, its tail can grow up to 8-9 inches. The finger monkey reaches adult size at two years. The males of this species are heavier weighing up to 5 oz, as compared to the females who generally tip the scales at a little over 4 oz. Except for the difference in height and weight, both the sexes share the same physical features. Its lifespan in captivity and in the wild differs. The average lifespan of a finger monkey is 11-15 years, however, some are known to live up to 25 years.

The finger monkey uses its sharp claws to move between bigger branches or move up on trees. Its diet includes leaves, nectar of flowers, fruits, insects, spiders, small lizards, and sometimes, small reptiles. Food habits also include drinking plant sap and eating gum from trees. The finger monkey spends most of the day making inch-deep holes in the bark of trees with the help of sharp, lower incisors. It keeps returning to the holes to gather and eat gum produced by the trees. However, when the food source dwindles, the finger monkey shifts to another area.

Finger monkeys are highly social animals. In the wild, they live in groups of 6-10 made of an adult pair and their offspring. Within the group they communicate by body language, scent marking, making high pitched sounds, and grooming each other. They are monogamous and only one female will mate at a time. A female finger monkey can give birth every 5 months. Usually, the breeding female gives birth to twins and sometimes, to single babies and even triplets and quadruplets, after around 135 days gestation. The newborn finger monkey weighs about ½ ounce. The father finger monkey looks after the offspring for a couple of weeks after birth; and is ably supported by the older offspring in the group. The finger monkey is vulnerable to cats, snakes and birds of prey. When threatened, finger monkeys resort to either vocalizing, chasing or keeping still till the danger passes off. Unlike other primates, the species is not endangered, though loss of habitat is a concern.
Finger Monkeys as Pets

Finger monkeys are exotic pets and you can purchase one for anything between $2,000 – $4,000. Looking after it can be an expensive affair and increases the finger monkey cost substantially. But before you buying one, you need to check whether adopting or keeping a pet finger monkey is legal in your state. If there are no legal issues, you can search for finger monkey breeders on the Internet. Look for pet owners who may wish to give away their finger monkeys for adoption. If you find one, you may be able to strike a good deal. If you’re planning to purchase from a pet store, make sure your prospective pet is disease free. There are also other things you need to look into – the rather complex diet and difficulty in getting veterinarian trained in primate care. Make sure you’re able to provide both.

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