Animals Unique to the Philippines

Written by Patrick
Travel Insurance

Probably anyone who has heard or read about the Philippines knows that this little tropical country in Southeast Asia has some of the best beaches in the world. It’s no wonder thousands of foreign tourists fly to the country every year to enjoy the beaches, scenic views, mouth-watering seafood, and fresh tropical fruits. And what comes along these natural wonders are wildlife… and several of these animals are unique to the Philippines.

The Philippines is considered as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots with a significant number of endemic plant and animal species. We’re talking about 600 species of birds, 111 species of amphibians, 270 species of reptiles, 330 freshwater fish, and 21,000 insects. More than 50% of these numbers are endemic. Yes, there are hundreds of unique animals that can only be found in the Philippines.

Get to know these 10 animals unique to the Philippines.

1 | Philippine Eagle

Philippine Eagle

Caption: Philippine Eagle

Scientific name: Pithecophaga jefferyi

Local name: ágila, háribon (portmanteau of haring ibón – king bird), banog – kite, monkey-eating eagle

There’s no better species to be named the country’s national bird than the Philippine eagle.  The world’s largest eagle and considered as one of the rarest and most powerful birds in the world, the Philippine Eagle stands more than three feet tall and can weigh up to eight kilograms.  This bird with dark face exhibits a regal appearance owing to its creamy-brown nape with shaggy, manelike crest. Its back is dark brown with white underside and underwings.  It has large, powerful, dark claws it uses to catch its prey like flying-foxes, cloud-rats, and Philippine long-tailed macaque (monkey), therefore the alternative name Monkey-Eating Eagle.  Endemic to the Philippines, they are considered critically endangered as there are only around 90 pairs of them existing today.

READ MORE:  Interesting Facts About the Philippine Eagle

2 | Mindoro Dwarf Buffalo

Mindoro Dwarf Buffalo

Caption:  Mindoro Dwarf Buffalo | Image Source

Scientific name: Bubalus mindorensis

Local name: tamaraw

The tamaraw is a small stocky buffalo indigenous to Mindoro.  It may not be a subspecies of the local carabao but it bears resemblance to the more common water buffalo which is the national animal of the Philippines.  However, it is slightly hairier, has light markings on its face, and shorter horns which are straight and V-shaped.  It is classed as critically endangered and their count is between 466 to 494 as of April 2019.

The animal was once depicted in one-peso coins which circulated in 1980 to early 1990.

READ MORE:  Interesting Facts About Tamaraw

3 | Philippine Mouse-Deer


Scientific name: Tragulus nigricans

Local name: pilandok, Balabac chevrotain

Several animals that are unique to the Philippines are found in Palawan, including the Philippine mouse-deer. It is a small, nocturnal animal that actually belongs to the chevrotain family, not the deer family.  They measure between 40 to 50 centimeters from the head to the tail base. They feed on leaves, flowers, fruits, and grasses.  The animal is endemic to Balabac Island in the province of Palawan and classed as endangered.

READ MORE:  The Ultimate Guide to…

4 | Philippine Tarsier

Philippine Tarsier

Caption:  Philippine Tarsier

Scientific name: Carlito syrichta

Local name: mawumag, magô

One of the smallest primates, the adult Philippine tarsier is as big as the human fist.  They are nocturnal creatures with disproportionately large eyes that are fixed in their skull however, their necks can be rotated 180 degrees.  They feed on insects, spiders, small crustaceans, and small vertebrates.  Tarsiers are solitary animals with suicide tendencies when in captivity.  Philippine tarsiers are classified as near threatened with only about 700 on the island.  The Philippine Tarsier Foundation maintains a tarsier sanctuary in Corella, Bohol that allows visitors to see tarsiers in their natural habitat.

READ MORE:  Interesting Facts About Philippine Tarsiers

5 | Philippine Flying Lemur

Philippine flying lemur or Philippine colugo (Cynocephalus volans) 鼯猴

Scientific name: Cynocephalus volans

Local name: kagwang

Resembling a monkey with bat’s wings, the Philippine flying lemur is actually not a lemur and cannot fly.  They possess web and clawed feet that enable them to climb fast and glide distances of over 100 meters.  They weigh between 1 to 1.7 kg and measure 33 to 38 centimeters.  They prefer to live high up in the trees in heavily forested areas of Basilan, Leyte, Samar, Bohol, and Mindanao.  Farmers consider them pests since they feed on fruits, flowers, plant shoots, and young leaves.

READ MORE:  The Ultimate Guide to…

6 | Palawan Peacock Pheasant

Palawan Peacock Pheasant

Caption:  Palawan Peacock Pheasant

Scientific name: Polyplectron napoleonis

Local name: tandikan

Found in the forests of Palawan, the Palawan peacock pheasant is a sight to behold with its erectile crest, white stripe over the eyes, and highly iridescent electric blue-violet back plumage.  Its breast and belly are dark black while the tail is marked with highly iridescent, light-reflective, ocelli.  Their existence is considered vulnerable however you can take a glimpse of this bird near the Underground River rangers station. The bird is depicted in the official seal of Puerto Princesa City, the capital of Palawan.

READ MORE:  The Ultimate Guide to…

7 | Rufous Hornbill

Rufous Hornbill

Scientific name: Buceros hydrocorax

Local name: kalaw

The biggest and the most good-looking hornbill in the country, the Rufous hornbill has large and often colorful bills.  Its throat until middle belly is rufous (reddish brown) while its lower belly and wings are black.  Its tail is white and with a pale tan stain.  Locally called kalaw, the Rufous Hornbill is also referred to as “the clock of the mountains” due to its periodic noontime call.  The bird is classified as vulnerable due to its decreasing population caused by hunting and habitat loss.

READ MORE:  The Ultimate Guide to…

8 | Palawan Bearcat


Scientific name: Arctictis binturong whitei

Local name: binturong

The Palawan bearcat has distinctive ears lined with white fur and white whiskers that are usually as long as its head.  It can grow as long as 1.4 meters and has a long tail it uses to hang from trees.  It inhabits the tropical rainforest and feeds on fruit and small animals.  The animal is classified as vulnerable.

READ MORE:  The Ultimate Guide to…

9 | Visayan Warty Pig

Visayan Warty Pig

Caption:  Visayan Warty Pig

Scientific name: Sus cebifrons

Local name: baboy ilahas – wild pig  in Cebuano and Hiligaynon, baboy talonon – forest pig in Hiligaynon, baboy sulop – dark pig in Cebuano

The Visayan warty pig got its name from its fleshy facial warts biologists believe the animal uses as natural defense when fighting.  It is dark grey in color and grows stiff spiky hair.  It is classified as critically endangered with very small population in Negros and Panay.

READ MORE:  Interesting Facts About the Visayan Warty Pig

10 | Philippine Crocodile

Philippine Crocodile

Caption:  Philippine Crocodile | Image Source

Scientific name: Crocodylus mindorensis

Local name: buwaya, burakot

This species endemic to the Philippines is a relatively small, freshwater crocodile that grows between 1.5 to 3 meters and weighs around 15 kg.  Golden brown in color, the Philippine crocodile feeds more on ailing fish than healthy ones therefore improving the common health of the fish stock.  It is classified as critically endangered with populations still surviving in Luzon and Mindanao.

These are just a few examples of the incredible animals that are found exclusively in the Philippines. The country’s rich biodiversity and isolation have contributed to the evolution of unique and fascinating species that are treasured both locally and globally. Protecting and conserving these endemic species is crucial for maintaining the ecological balance and preserving the natural heritage of the Philippines.

READ MORE:  Wildlife in the Philippines

About the Author


Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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