Peculiar primate with enormous eyes
The Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) is very peculiar and very small animal. In fact it is one of the smallest known primates, no larger than a man's hand.
It can be found in the islands of Samar, Leyte, Bohol, and Mindanao in the Philippines.
The Philippine tarsier is about 15cm in height and between 115 and 130g in weight. They have gray fur and a nearly naked tail.
The middle finger is elongated. Head and body length are around 118-149 mm; it weighs 113-142 grams.
In comparison with his body size, the eyes of the Tarsier are huge, giving it very acute night vision that makes them good night hunters. But these eyes are fixed and unable to move like our eyes. To compensate their heads can turn 180o and the large ears are constantly moving and picking up sounds.
Tarsiers have enormous eyes and long feet. Their feet have extremely elongated tarsus bones, which is how they got their name. They live exclusively on animal prey.
Mostly active at night, it lives on a diet of insects. Folk tradition has it that tarsiers eat charcoal, but actually they retrieve the insects from (sometimes burned) wood.
The Tarsier is a prosimian... ie an ancient ancestor of todays modern monkeys.
It is said that the Philippine Tarsier has the largest eyes, proportionate to its body size, of any animal on the plant (the Giant squid is squid to have the largest physical eyes).
Its "tarsus" or ankle bone is elongated (hence the name) allowing it to jump at least 3m from tree to tree without having to touch the ground. A remarkable distance for such a small animal.
Your chances of seeing one in the wild
Pretty good. The Philippine Trasier is specially protected in the Philippines and considered part of the country's natural heritage.
Indeed, it is reported that "...one belief passed down from ancient times is that [tarsiers] are pets belonging to the spirits dwelling in giant fig trees. If someone harms a tarsier they need to apologise to the spirits of the forest, or it is thought they will encounter sickness or hardship in life."
WWF's work for the environment in the Philippines
Donsol Whale Shark Research and Ecotourism Sustainability Program
Whale sharks are by far the world’s largest living fish. These amazing fish reach in excess of 14m in length and weigh up to 12 tonnes. The whale shar...
Hamilo Coast Sustainable Development Projecte
Donsol Community-Based Whale Shark Ecotourism and Coastal Resource Management
Since 1998, WWF Philippines has assisted the Donsol local government unit (LGU) to protect whale sharks and develop a community-based whale shark ecot...
Ilagan Watershed Conservation Project
The Ilagan watershed provides a wide range of watershed services that benefit upland and lowland farmers, residents, institutions, small businesses an...
Strengthening Conservation Partnerships with Indigenous Communities
Indigenous people make up a significant proportion of Philippine society. Living in some of the most biologically diverse areas of the Philippines, th...
Sustainable Land Development: WWF-Ayala Land Partnership
Land development and construction have significant impacts on the environment. The conversion of agricultural lands to urban and residential areas red...
Investigating Longline Turtle Bycatch
The longline fishing industry targets the tuna fishery which contributes to the annual tuna production in the Philippines. Using lines extending to 20...
Sustainable Fisheries, Poverty Alleviation and Marine Ecosystems
The project is focused on poverty and environment linkages i.e. ways in which marine fisheries strategies can contribute to poverty alleviation and al...
Equitable Payments for Watershed Services
CARE, in consortium with WWF and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), was granted funds by the Directorate General f...
Coral Reef Conservation in Balabac Island
The Tiffany & Co. Foundation’s generous support to WWF and our coalition of partners’ work to develop a multiple-use protected area that advances cons...