An image of vervet monkey-the type found in St.Kitts-Nevis (obtained from tarvelbunny.com) with an inset photo (courtesy SKNVibes.com) showing a woman’s dressed wound after being attacked by a monkey recently.

By: Precious Mills
BASSETERRE, St.Kitts- In an exclusive interview with this media house, a veterinarian from the Behavourial Science Foundation talked about the differences between a tamed monkey and a wild monkey.

In light of the recent monkey attack which left a woman injured, this media house reached out to that foundation unit, also known as the ‘Monkey Farm’ located in Estridge village, in an effort to get some information on the green vervet primates including tips on human being to monkey interactions and also whether or not bites are infectious.

In speaking with the expert, she initially explained that monkeys are a flight species.
“They choose to run away from danger versus facing it unless you threaten them or they are cornered or you’re taking their infant.”

She continued: “But when you try to tame them to make them a pet, you change that natural behaviour and they are very smart and so they imprint very quickly. Human beings become the source of family, for food, for protection or whatever and so they don’t have that flight response instinct anymore and so they act like a naughty toddler.”

According to her, their intelligence level goes up to that of a five or six year old human being and so such tamed monkeys can act like an angry toddler.

“They get angry and they behave like an angry toddler and so that’s why they lash out but that’s not normal monkey behavior; that is generally a tamed monkey. A natural wild monkey will run from a threat and a human being is a threat because we are really are the only predators that they have on St. Kitts.”

Asked whether or not their bites can be infectious, in her response she likened that impact to that of a bite from a human being whilst noting that monkeys in St.Kitts are not dangerous in that regard.

“Their bite wounds have been studied and it is the equivalent of a human bite wound whereby the infecting agents are generally are on the surface of the skin of the person who gets bitten and so when they (human beings) get bitten; the teeth drag that bacteria into the skin…”

The Veterinarian added: “These monkeys in St.Kitts are generally not very dangerous as far as infections go and that has to do with the fact that they have a very closed environment. Now again, if you have a hand raised monkey that is living in a household, it is exposed to whatever that household has so it would be like that person’s child biting you.”

The veterinarian, however, pointed out the difference in the monkey’s teeth size compared with a human being.

“The danger is that they have big canines so they can cause a lot of damage and also like traumatic damage. They can also make a big puncture which you don’t want to close up, you want that puncture wound to stay open and heal so that’s the difference with the human teeth is that they have these big canine teeth.”

The animal expert was asked to provide some guidelines as it relates to what persons should do when they come across a wild or tamed monkey.

“You should react the way you react to any wild animal. Don’t lash out at them and don’t approach them. If you want them to go away, you can try to make a loud noise or pick up a rock and throw it towards them; anything that you’ll do to scare away a wild animal. In general, if you walk by, they will ignore you but that’s a wild monkey. A monkey that’s been tamed is going to approach you because it has lost that boundary of fear so what is normal is not normal anymore so the best thing is not to overreact (but rather) try to calmly get away from the animal and go somewhere secure where you can close the door or something like that and you can find the owner to come get it.”

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