Stay Safe When Encountering Monkeys on Your Travels

In certain parts of the world, especially in Southeast Asia, it’s not uncommon to see monkeys hanging around at the popular tourist attractions. These cheeky primates will be climbing on railings, eating food scraps and looking curiously at tourists. Monkeys can be cute and fun to watch and can offer some great photo opportunities – but it is important to be careful. These are wild animals after all and they have sharp claws and teeth. Many tourists have suffered from monkey bites, so here are tips on staying safe around monkeys so that you can avoid troubles on your travels:

Staying Safe Around Monkeys: Koh Phi-Phi Thailand

Staying Safe Around Monkeys

If a Monkey Grabs Something – Let it Go

One of the most common reasons that monkeys bite tourists is because the tourist doesn’t drop something that the money has grabbed. A curious monkey will likely try to grab your purse, water bottle, backpack or camera. Let it go as soon as the monkey grabs it – a tug of war will end in a nasty bite! Don’t worry too much – chances are that when a monkey grabs something they will examine the object and then drop it anyway. Better yet, don’t carry dangling camera straps or purses in the first place.

Don’t Carry Food

If you are visiting somewhere with a lot of moneys, such as the Batu Caves in Malaysia or the forests of Ubud, Bali – make sure that you don’t have any food on you. Monkeys can smell even unopened food, so the granola bar in your pocket will attract their attention.

Staying Safe Around Monkeys: monkeyfanta

Don’t Smile or Stare at the Monkeys

While smiling at another human diffuses tension, the opposite is true for monkeys. Baring teeth is a sign of aggression in primates, so avoid making eye contact and smiling or laughing at a monkey. This could be taken as a threat, especially by the large dominant males.

Avoid the Mothers with Babies and the Large Males

The most dangerous monkeys are the mothers with babies or the large dominant males. Don’t get too close to them or tease or threaten them. They are wild animals and they will react violently to protect themselves and the rest of their community.

Staying Safe Around Monkeys: monkeyfeaturedimage

If a Monkey Threatens You – Stand Your Ground

If there is an aggressive monkey, you should not turn and run away. Showing fear will establish their dominance and boost their confidence. Instead, try to stand your ground and wave your arms or a stick in the air to make yourself look bigger and more threatening. If you must get away, walk away backwards while still facing the monkey. If the monkey does bite or scratch you, the wound should be treated right away by a doctor and you should go on a course of antibiotics and rabies medication.

Keep these tips in mind and you will stay safe and avoid any monkey business when you encounter these curious creatures on your travels.

About Kelly Dunning


A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word. She and her English boyfriend Lee run, packed full with travel guides, stories and inspiration for those who dream of travel. They have been location independent and travelling the world digital-nomad style for the last three years, with no address, no car and no fixed schedule.

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