Weirdest animals in the world – Philipinne tarsier

Posted on Apr 21, 2012 in Looks



Cute tiny primate with a high voice

The Philippine tarsier is one of the world’s smallest primates growing to around 10 cm (3 inches) in height. Despite appearing to be silent it has recently been discovered that this strange nocturnal creature is actually something of a chatterbox and with those big saucer eyes, it’s unofficially one of the cutest animals too!


Where does it live?

Tarsiers can only be found in the tropical forests of the Philippines, Borneo and Sumatra.


How many left?

Unfortunately tarsiers were victims of a profitable rip roaring trade whereby they were captured, killed, and stuffed to sell to tourists. Luckily this practice has now outlawed, which is at least a step in the right direction. However, tarsiers are still threatened by the destruction of their natural habitat from years of deforestation. The species is not considered endangered and is currently listed as vulnerable.


5 weird tarsier facts:


1. Its eyes bigger are bigger than its brain!

The tarsier’s eyeballs are so huge they’re bigger than its brain and its stomach and are proportionately the largest eyes of any living mammal.  To compensate for the fact that the tarsier cannot move its eyes in its sockets, it can swivel its head, in owl like fashion, an impressive 180 degrees in either direction.  And why are they so big? Being a nocturnal hunter, it uses these awesome night time goggles to pinpoint tasty bugs and insects. 

Philippine tarsier

Philippine tarsier photo: The Wandering Angel


2. Spooky customer 

If a hiding tarsier has been spotted by a predator, it has a simple technique to scare them away. It will suddenly swivel its head and glares at its assailant to try and spook them.  Whether it shouts ‘Boo’ as well, is unconfirmed.


3. Big footed acrobat

The tarsier has very long, powerful hind legs which combined with its elongated tarsus bones in its unusually long feet enable it to leap around 3 metres from branch to branch (30-40 times its own body length) whilst suction pads on its fingers help it for grip. Due to its twisty neck, it can even jump backwards and still have complete visibility.


4. It’s a high pitched chattterbox

For a long time based on rudimentary obversation it was assumed this saucer-eyed mammal didn’t say a lot.  However, subsequent research has revealed that it squeaks and squeals at such a high frequency that we can’t hear it. In fact, only whales, domestic cats and a few species of bats can make sounds to match the high frequency one made by the Philippine tarsier. Being able to hear (and communicate) at such high frequency can help them eavesdrop on noises made by potential lunch victims such as moths and crickets.


5. Mum delivers BIG babies

Tarsiers most commonly live as couples and after mating, poor female tarsiers give birth to baby tarsiers that are 25% of their mothers weight, which happens to be the largest percentage infant birth weight ratio amongst mammals. The little baby tarsier is no slouch either, by a month old it will be happily leaping from branch to branch.




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