MY RHESUS MONKEYS HAPPINESS
(MY MAIN CONCERN)
Written by: Sheri Chambers
Ever sit and watch your monkey play? I do this for hours at a time and sit in total awe of the way they move and play with such active energy. In feeling such a deep love for them and wanting them to be as happy as possible being my pets, so I try to consider their lives as it is with me and try very hard to see that they have ample exercise, and things to keep their minds active.
In the active category that is a bit simpler than the mind category, to give them the most exercise possible. My first thing I thought of in the active area is ok, they need room to play, jump, tag, chase, swing, and climb, and rest in between the heavy duty playing, and oh yes, be just monkeys, no diapers!
Along with a big cage indoors, I now have an even bigger cage outdoors, that is 12 feet long, x 6 feet tall, x 4 feet wide, that has a drop pan underneath it to catch anything that may fall. I still want a bigger area than this for my two monkeys in the near future, but for now this one really helps in that active category. Inside this cage my monkeys have swings, and hammocks, plastic chains for climbing, heavy duty plastic tubes to climb through. In this area no rules apply, just monkey stuff, chasing, climbing, swinging, lounging, and best of all no clothes or diapers.
I feel at this point in time with their ages they are getting enough activity to keep them happy and healthy, in developing strong bodies while they are growing. We also give them ample time out of their indoor cages to spend hours per evening playing with their humans. We play ball, catch and fetch are favorite games to play with the ball, another fun thing is wrestling, they love to jump on their humans and tag them, tease them and pull their human's hair in ruff house play. And last but not least we have a trampoline in the back yard and they love to jump on it and wrestle with one another. We keep them on real long leads to keep them safe and still under our control. the same goes for the swimming pool, where they swim almost everyday during the summer months.
Now comes the thought of keeping them mentally challenged to some degree, so as not to get depressed, or down. With some thought I figured they're a lot like kids so toys came to mind first. I try to buy toys, with movement, noises, and ones that look like animals, that are hard, and some that are soft and cuddly. As well as mirrors for their cages even though they have each other to look at, they sometimes think that there are more monkeys than them, do to the reflections in their mirrors. This gives them more play mates, in their minds because they do not realize it's themselves they are playing with in the mirror.
Another thing I like to do in the toy category, is change out the toys every other day in each cage, I remember when my kids were little, they got bored with the same toys day in and day out. I also will put Coty in Haily's cage and Haily in Coty's cage for a change of scenery. I've bought extra hanging toys for they're cages and change them out about once a month. It seems to work, because when the toys have been cycled so to speak they are happy to see them again after not seeing them for awhile. It's almost as if they had received all new toys to play with, they give them special notice again. Not that they are short of new toys, we seem to spoil them like special kids and take full advantage of holidays and birthdays for buying them more stuff, but that does make the cycling of the toys all the easier.
Along with keeping them mentally happy, I feed them a large menu of foods for they're diets. Mostly fruits and vegetables, but I make sure they are not the same day after day. I will go out of my way to change the vegetables, and fruits, even if I have to get frozen or unsweetened canned. I buy them a variety of cereals since this is they're favorite thing to eat in the AM. I won't buy anything high in coated sugar but I make sure it has many different tastes between the cereals I have picked. Along with their regular menus of fruits and vegetables they get children's chewable vitamins. Monkey Biscuits are also a good nutrition value if you can get your monkeys to eat them.
I do feed my monkeys more vegetables and fruits, they like a big variety of things from nuts, to popcorn, wheat crackers, they even like cheese. Frozen yogurt is a favorite, strawberry and vanilla go over big, or any other fruit tasting flavor. Trail mix, and dried fruits of all kinds are a real treat, as well as graham crackers. My monkeys even like oatmeal cookies, and flavored breads, like cinnamon, or blueberry waffles. Muffins are a good treat like banana or bran, blueberry, apple, mine even like cheese flavored. Granted these extra are not fed to them not as a regular diet but as substitutes, and treats.
Along with the eating category, I like to do things so that they forge for their food, like take apples, or pears, and stick sun flower seeds in them, making them look like little pine cones. This gives them something to do picking out all the seeds, and then eating the seeds as well as the apples. Or I will buy containers with different compartments, and put different goodies in the compartments and let them figure out how to get them open, and retrieve the goodie. I change the containers often so that it doesn't become so familiar that they remember exactly how they got the goodie out last time. I will also hang containers on the outside of their cage occasionally and put goodies in the containers that have a hand size opening in them for easy access. They are not there on a full time basis, so sometimes it takes a while before they notice the container is hanging on the outside of their cage again.
In summary of keeping my monkeys happy, I think that change is the key here, they can't go exploring on their own in the wild, so I try to give them new things to explore living with their human. They are highly intelligent and that shows when they are bored, I want them to think and figure out stuff, it's part of their nature. To make them sit and do nothing would surely cause mental problems, so in loving them they keep me busy trying to figure out ways to amuse them. I have lots of time ahead of me to keep challenging them and myself with things to keep them busy, but when it's all said and done, I'll feel my monkeys lead as full of a life as possible with me.
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