Wildlife

Interesting Facts About Philippine Tarsiers

Written by Patrick
Travel Insurance

There are several animal species found in the Philippines only and one of them is the Philippine tarsier (Carlito syrichta).  They are known to inhabit the province of Bohol and have become an icon of Bohol in addition to the wondrous Chocolate Hills and Panglao beaches.

This small primate is currently a big part of the tourism industry of the province and a trip to the tarsier sanctuary is usually included when getting the countryside tour package.  Tarsier souvenirs such as stuffed toys, keychains, wallets, and bags are also popular products among tourists.

Before meeting this exotic creature, here are some interesting facts about them:

Their eyes are fixed in their skulls

Their eyes are not only disproportionately large, they’re also fixed in their skulls which prevents movement or rotation.  Fortunately, their necks can be rotated 180 degrees on either side therefore giving them the ability to see all sides without moving the whole body.

They’re as big as an adult human fist

Philippine tarsiers are one of the smallest primates on the planet.  An adult tarsier weighs between 80 to 160 grams and measures between three to six inches in height, just as big as an adult human fist.

They can jump at least three meters

The tarsier is named after its elongated tarsus or ankle bone which enables it to jump at least three meters from tree to tree.  Its tail is narrow and is twice as long as its body which therefore helps with balance.

They’re found in Visayas and Mindanao

While they’re known to inhabit the islands of Bohol, their presence has also been spotted in Basilan, Dinagat Island, Leyte, Maripipi Island, Samar, and Siargao.

They are shy animals

The Philippine tarsier is a shy animal living a solitary life and mostly hidden especially during the day. Like owls and bats, they are nocturnal animals which become active and forage when it’s dark. 

Their home range is at least one hectare

Tarsiers may be small but their home range must be at least one hectare per individual.  If a male trespasses on another’s territory, a fight that will lead to the death of the other will surely ensue.

Philippine tarsiers inhabit between three to six feet off the ground clinging to a vertical tree branch, bushes, or bamboo in tropical rainforests with dense vegetation.

They are insectivorous

Their primary diet consists of insects, particularly crickets and grasshoppers but they also eat small lizards and birds as well as spiders and small crustaceans.

They don’t do well in captivity

Tarsiers can live up to 24 years in the wild but decrease to two to 12 years when in captivity.  Being shy and solitary animals, they get stressed with too many activities or being kept in an enclosure which therefore trigger them to commit suicide by banging their heads against objects.

Their population is near threatened

The population of Philippine tarsier is classified as near threatened with only about 700 of them in the country based on the Philippine Tarsier Foundation.  Threats to their population include hunting, pet trade, and loss of habitat caused by dwindling forests and over growing human population.

This species is named after a Filipino

The scientific name of the Philippine tarsier is Carlito syrichta after Carlito Pizarras, the conservationist who runs the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella, Bohol.  

When planning to see the tarsiers in Bohol, there are two places to do so the – Tarsier Conservation Area in Bohol and the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella.  We suggest going to the one in Corella where these animals can roam freely around their natural habitat and tourists are regulated.  The animals in Loboc are kept in poor condition being held captive in small cages and often flocked by tourists all day long.

READ MORE: Bohol Island Visitors Guide

What are YOUR thoughts on this topic?

About the Author

Patrick

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.

Leave a Comment