What should you do if you encounter a baboon in your house?

It can be very intimidating (and highly annoying) to find a baboon in your home. While your first reaction may be one of fear and anger, keep in mind that the baboon is simply looking for food and does not intend to hurt you (unless you provoke it, try to harm it, or try to prevent it from accessing your food). Below are a few steps that you can take to remove the baboon while minimizing the danger to any people in the house and to your property.

1. It is very important to remain calm. The calmer you are, the calmer the baboon will be. If you panic, the baboon might panic and become aggressive and/or inadvertently cause harm to a person or to your property. Keep in mind that this is a stressful situation for the baboon as well, and that it may panic if you discover it suddenly or move towards it too quickly. Once in your home and confronted by you, the baboon is a trapped animal and may become unpredictable. Avoid eye contact, as baboons may find this threatening.
2. Do not try to take anything away from the baboon. Let it keep the food or whatever else it may have picked up. If it is not food, the baboon will eventually drop it. Do NOT try to give the baboon food or tempt it away with food. And please do NOT set your dog on the baboon - that is a recipe for disaster for both species (see Baboons and Dogs for more on this). It is simply too dangerous to attempt to interact directly with a baboon in any way when it is in your home.
3. Identify the nearest exit that the baboon can use to leave your home. Make sure that neither you nor any of your family members are blocking this exit. Open any additional doors or windows as possible exit points for the baboon. The lack of a clear exit route might cause the baboon to panic and become aggressive.
4. Encourage the baboon to leave.  Which methods are most effective will depend on the level of habituation of the baboon (i.e., how often it has interacted with people):
  • clap your hands
  • bang together two pots
  • spray the baboon with water from a water pistol or a spray bottle

5. If all else fails, call for help!  


Go to the NSPCA website for a downloadable list of all South African SPCA offices and after hours emergency numbers.  Find your local SPCA numbers and keep them in an easy-to-find location in your house.


In the Cape Peninsula of South Africa, some options for help are:


Content on this page contributed by:
Julian Saunders
Larissa Swedell
Thanks to the following reviewers for improving this page:
Angela van Doorn
Shahrina Chowdhury

Please credit this website for any and all use of this material.