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All about the Philippine Tarsier

  • 03
  • 07
  • 2016

Have you ever seen a tarsier? You probably have even though you might not have known what to call it. Its big, beautiful, and memorable eyes give it a strange and fascinating look. A tarsier is an animal that looks as though it has come straight out of a fantasy book.


The official scientific name of the tarsier is Carlito syrichta. In our pictures we are featuring the Tarsier whom is native to the Philippines, where it lives on the islands of Samar, Leyte, Dinagat, Siargao, Bohol, Mindanao, Maripipi, and Basilan.

In captivity, the average lifespan of a tarsier is 2–12 years, and the average height is 8.500 cm – 0′ 6″ with weight ranging from 0.08 kg (0.18 pound) – 0.20 kg (0.44 pound).

You’ve probably seen this primate in nature magazine photos or videos and been amazed by its huge eyes. Tarsiers actually have the biggest eyes relative to their body weight of any mammal species. They also have a pair of membranous ears set on its very round head.

What is also very noticeable about the tarsier is its long digits which culminate in rounded pads that provide the tarsier with an effective grip on just about any surface. They look like they have little bubbles on the end of their digits, which give the mammal that excellent grip.


Generally seen in pairs of a male and female, tarsiers give birth to a single young. Incredibly, the well-developed baby tarsier weighs 25 per cent of the mother’s weight, a greater percentage than any other mammal!

These beautifully endearing creatures are active at dusk and dawn so they are creatures of the night. Their day is spent sleeping in dense vegetation, or occasionally they find comfort in a hollow tree. When the sun sets, they begin their search for insect prey and put those huge eyes to good use.


Philippine tarsiers are quite the acrobats of the forest, capable of making vertical leaps from tree to tree with ease. Amazingly, if you thought serious head rotation was limited to owls, think again! The tarsier’s head can rotate nearly 360°, and this, along with their enormous eyes, gives them an excellent field of vision for hunting those insects at night and spotting potential predators. Once an insect is spotted, the tarsier will carefully adjust its position, focus, and then leap forward to seize the prey with both hands, their slender fingers creating a cage in which to hold fluttering insects. During the hours the tarsier is awake, its thin ears are almost constantly being furled or crinkled.

Next time you see one of these animals in a photo or video, keep in mind how unique they are. In some photos, you might even think that they look like E.T.


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