Is it Dangerous to Touch a Monkey? The Real Risks and Dangers

There is a lot of misinformation and misconceptions about the dangers of touching monkeys. For example, is it risky to touch a monkey? The answer is no. However, is it safe to touch a monkey? That is another question entirely. In this post we will talk about what you need to know before petting or handling any monkey, whether that’s living in the wild or in captivity.

So, is it dangerous to touch a monkey? It is not dangerous to touch a monkey, but it’s not completely safe either, and you should not touch monkeys still. Monkeys can carry diseases like Herpes B and rabies, and while they do not transfer to you from touch, monkeys can flip suddenly and may bite if you touch them, which is dangerous and can cause serious infections.

There are other reasons why touching monkeys is not the best idea, so let’s explore them together.

Why is it dangerous to touch a monkey?

man feeding monkey to show why is it dangerous to touch a monkey

It is dangerous to touch monkeys because of these reasons:

-Monkeys can carry diseases like Herpes B and rabies. They do not transfer to you from touch, but monkeys can flip suddenly and may bite if you try to pet them which is dangerous.

-Some people have been known to get infected with the monkey equivalent of herpes (Herpes Virus or HVS) and is a virus that is transmitted to humans by monkeys.

  • Monkeys can also carry bacteria like E Coli and Salmonella which they get from their own feces, so if you touch them there is the risk of getting sick as well.
  • Monkeys are wild animals who do not understand people or human ways, so they are unpredictable. They often do not like being held or touched by humans and may bare their teeth in defense, which is a threat display that is used to show aggression.
  • Monkeys can also carry diseases such as tuberculosis, leptospirosis (Weil’s disease), psittacosis (ornithosis)

The risk of getting sick from touching a monkey once is quite low, but this risk goes higher if you frequently come in contact with monkeys.

Nurses, laboratory workers, veterinarians, and others who come into frequent contact with monkeys or monkey specimens are at an increased risk of becoming infected with the B virus.

People visiting temple parks in certain nations in Asia have had more macaque assaults lately, where macaques are frequently present and roam freely.

Up to 80% of these macaques have been found to be B virus positive, although there have not been any documented cases of humans becoming infected with the B virus.

Unfortunately, macaques are still one of the most popular monkey breeds as pets, which means that many people have them in their homes without testing them to know if they are carriers of any diseases or not.

Can Monkeys pass diseases to Humans?

Yes, Monkeys can indeed pass diseases to humans. Nonhuman primates like monkeys can spread diseases to their human counterparts because we are genetically related in a way.

Monkeys can transmit parasites, fungi, bacteria, and viruses to humans. The transmission can also be through touch, droplets, or airborne transmission.

Monkeys can spread diseases to humans even if they are not showing any symptoms of the diseases themselves.

Is it safe to pet a monkey?

It is safe to pet a monkey that has been socialized with humans and trained early on in their lives, but it is still not recommended as even the best well-trained monkeys can flip on humans and bite or scratch suddenly which can put you at risk of getting infected with any diseases they may carry.

Monkeys can become aggressive and show their teeth in an aggressive way if they are feeling threatened or stressed which is a warning sign that should be heeded.

Petting is a form of wild animal interaction which is only allowed in certain facilities that have guidelines and experts to provide the needed care for monkeys.

In most other cases, it is best not to pet or touch monkeys as there are high risks involved with doing so.

It is safe however if you know what you are doing and how to handle them, so if you want to pet a monkey it is best to do your research and learn how.

It is also important that you consider the location of where this is taking place especially in countries with high rates of infectious diseases such as Southeast Asia or India which have been known to carry leptospirosis (Weil’s disease), psittacosis (ornithosis), tuberculosis, and the B virus.

In general, we do not recommend petting monkeys, especially in the wild.


It is important to note that not all monkeys are dangerous. If you know what you’re doing and how to handle them, it is possible for humans to touch a monkey safely without fear of contracting diseases or other dangers associated with the animal.

There is always risk involved in any interaction with animals because they can become aggressive at certain times; however, if you follow proper precautions before interacting with them, your risks will be reduced.

Whether this means buying an expensive insurance policy (aka getting rabies shots) or taking care when handling these creatures is up to the individual person who is making contact with the monkey- just don’t forget that there’s no such thing as too much caution, and that safe is always better than sorry, so is this photo and the Instagram likes really worth the risk?

Related Questions

Why are monkeys so aggressive?

Monkeys are so aggressive because they are wild animals who have no idea that they should not be aggressive towards humans or any other animal because, in the wild, monkeys will show aggression if there is a threat present, to show dominance, or to get what they want.

What is the best way to pet a monkey?

The safest and most proper way to interact with your favorite primate is by following these steps: getting an expert to help you, getting the proper training on how to handle them, having a safety plan in place before interacting with your monkey is important.

Do monkeys have diseases?

Yes- about 30% of all nonhuman primates are carriers for zoonotic infections that can be transmitted to humans through bites or scratches making it very dangerous if you’re not careful.

Monkeys are also carriers for many diseases that can be transmitted to humans through close contact with them, so is it really worth petting a monkey?

Helpful Resources

CDC – Herpes Virus Transmission

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