Keeping a Bush Baby as a Pet [Everything You Need to Know]

If you’re in the market for an exotic pet, you might have considered getting a bush baby. Sure, their huge eyes and furry exterior make them extremely adorable, but are bush babies suitable as pets? Before you start taking care of exotic creatures like these you have to know what you’re getting into, otherwise you might end up resenting them.

In this post, I’m going to give a complete overview of what it entails to have a bush baby as your pet. The aim is to cover everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision about whether getting one of these primates as a pet is a good idea. I’ll go over their legality, their lifespan, what they eat, and much more. Let’s get started.

What is a bush baby?

Before we dig into what it means to have one of these creatures as a pet, let’s first take a quick look at what exactly a bush baby is.

Bush babies, also known as galagos, are small nocturnal primates with large eyes. These large eyes allow them to have excellent night vision due to the fact that they allow them to absorb more light. They are native to Sub-Saharan Africa and are the smallest primates in the entirety of Africa.

They can jump remarkably high, with the highest recorded jump being a staggering 2.25 meters high. This means that if you take into account the size of both a frog and a galago, the galago jumps up to 9 times better.

The reason why they’re known as bushbabies is for one of two reasons: it’s either because of the screams they make which resemble that of a crying baby, or because of their huge eyes which makes them look like a baby.

There are two distinct species of galago; the greater and the lesser galago. The greater galago is, as the name suggests, larger than the lesser galago. But the lesser galago has larger eyes in relation to its head.

an image of the greater galago
The greater galago is the larger of the two species
lesser galago picture
The lesser galago is smaller but has larger eyes in relation to its body

Is it legal to keep bush babies as pets?

The answer to this question highly depends on where you live. In the United States, it’s legal to keep bush babies as pets in certain states such as Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma, and the Carolinas while in other states you can keep them only if you have a permit. However, in most states, it’s not legal to have primates as a pet, which includes bush babies.

If you’re in the United States, this is a handy map that shows you which states allow the ownership of galagos as a pet:

a map showing where bush babies are legal
This map displays where primates, which include bush babies, are legal to be kept as pets.

In other countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, bush babies are completely illegal to import as pets. In yet other countries, such as the UK, they’re technically legal.

There are tons of different countries and they all have different laws when it comes to the ownership of exotic pets. The best way to find out is to talk to your local authorities to get a definitive answer.

Things to consider before getting a bush baby pet

Before you get a bush baby as a pet, you have to do your research. If you do not, you might be in for some nasty surprises which prevent you from taking adequate care of them. Here are some things that you must consider before you go through with getting one of these creatures as a pet.

Most pet primates are bought on a whim, without potential owners doing adequate research into what it entails to take care of one of these creatures. As a result, they’re often neglected or abandoned. If you choose to get a bush baby as a pet, you have to be 100% committed and confident that you are able to take care of it.

They are wild animals

The first thing you have to keep in mind is that these are in essence wild animals. They are not domesticated like dogs or cats. That means that their behavior might surprise you. For instance, did you know that many bush babies will pee on their hands and smear it all over your house in order to mark their territory? Behavior like this is what you must familiarize yourself with before you get an exotic pet like a bush baby.

If you do not, you might get frustrated with their behavior because you do not understand it and unfairly get mad at your pet for simply behaving like they do in the wild.

They are highly social

In the wild bush babies live in packs. Because of this, they’re highly social creatures. Especially younger bush babies are around each other non-stop and desire a lot of physical contact with one another. They play, fight, groom, and chase each other all day long.  Older galagos spend more time alone, but like other primates, they are still social creatures.

If you get one of these creatures as a pet, you will have to spend a lot of time with them. And when I say a lot, I really mean a lot. If you do not, they will get very lonely and bored. For this reason, the optimal situation for getting a bush baby as a pet is when you have a very large space to house multiple of them so they can live together. That way they will always have companionship just like they do in the wild.

The good thing about them being highly social is that they show a lot of affection.

They are intelligent

Primates are known for their high intelligence, and while bush babies are not the most intelligent of the primates, they’re still fairly smart.

Because of this, they need a lot of mental stimulation. This can be provided by other bush babies that live with them, or by you through the form of playing. Keep in mind though, that taking care of a bush baby is a very time-intensive commitment and something you must be prepared to do if you decide to adopt one.

If they do not get enough mental stimulation they can end up depressed and harming themselves.

They have a long lifespan

Like most primates, bush babies have quite a long lifespan. They can live for up to 16 years in captivity.

Think about that for a second, that’s a huge part of your life that you will have to take care of it; it’s almost the same as getting a human baby and in my opinion the decision to get one should be taken with the same gravity. Getting one is a huge commitment. You can’t just decide in two or three years that you do not want it anymore so it’s not a decision that should be made hastily.

They need a large enclosure

If you’re going to get a pet bush baby, make sure that you have adequate space for a large enclosure. It’s inhumane to put them in a small cage. In the wild, they like to roam around, swing from branches, and jump.

If they are unable to do any of that because of their confinement, while also being locked in their cage a large part of their day, I would highly urge you to reconsider getting one of these animals as a pet. They will become miserable and depressed.

They are nocturnal

Since bush babies are nocturnal, they are active during the night and sleep during the day. If you work during the day and sleep during the night, you and a bush baby are probably not a great match.

You will be sleeping while he wants to play, and as a result, you’ll barely be able to spend any time together.

You are supporting the exotic pet trade

It’s an unfortunate fact that the exotic pet trade is usually not very humane. Animals are often mistreated and many of them die in transit from Africa to where they’re being sold.

It also happens frequently that the exotic pet trade leads to poaching where the mothers get killed and the babies get sold into captivity.

When you are buying a bush baby, there’s a high chance that it supports this industry. Whether or not you’re alright with that is a decision that only you can make. You could make the argument that a lot of pets (for instance puppy mills) are not treated very humanely, but when it comes to puppies you have more choice to make an ethical decision like adopting one from a shelter.

What bush babies eat

Another important aspect of getting a bush baby pet is knowing what they eat.

In the wild, these monkeys eat insects and fruit, while also occasionally eating eggs if they can get their hands on them. If you have one as a pet, it’s best to replicate their natural diet as best as you can.

Examples of the fruits bush babies can consume include

  • mangoes
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • bananas

But they will eat almost any fruit you give to them.

The staple of their diet is insects though, so make sure to have access to a shop that sells these to you, or that you can buy them from online shops. They mostly like to eat grasshoppers, but other insects are fine too.

Conclusion

There are a lot of things that you need to consider before getting a bush baby as a pet. You have to think about whether you have enough time to spend with them, if you have enough space for them, and of course you have to remember that they are wild animals and will behave as such.

Furthermore, you have to consider that they live for up to 16 years, so you have to really think about whether or not you are ready to commit to taking care of one of these creatures for that long. I liken it to deciding to have a baby because the level of responsibility is similar.

Deciding to get a pet bush baby is definitely not something that should be done quickly. I assume you want to take care of them out of your love for the animal but make sure that you are capable of giving them that love before you get one.

Take some time to really think about whether or not you’re ready for it.  If you do not, they might just become another statistic – one of the other thousands of primates that are adopted as pets only to end up neglected or abandoned.

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