Tarsier Facts and Information
Introduction to Tarsier
The Tarsier is a small type of primate that not many people are familiar with. It spends most of its time in the trees and they have long tails. They are nocturnal so they are mainly out at night, making it hard to see them. In some cultures the Tarsier is considered to be a good luck charm and highly regarded. They only weigh about 5 ounces when they are fully mature.
This primate has a body that is covered in brownish fur that is very soft. They are small with very large eyes that seem to bulge out of their head. This is a very different physical characteristic from other types of primates. They have hind legs that are very long. They have very long fingers, with the middle one being longer than the rest. They also feature fingernails. Two of their back appendages have claws. The ears are small and pointed and they have great hearing.
The forests of the Philippines with plenty of coverage in the trees offers the best habitat for them. They spend most of their life in the trees and they are able to leap from one to the next. It is very risky for them to be on the ground due to predators so they very seldom will be there unless they have to. They are found in Sumatra and Borneo.
The Tarsier are very social and they often live in groups. They create small family groups most of the time. However, there are locations where they will forage and sleep alone. They tend to be shy primates that don’t want a great deal of attention. They will run to hide when they feel danger.
They don’t seem to do well in captivity, and that makes it hard to really observe all of their behaviors. They may become aggressive to themselves and to others that they are grouped with. They won’t mate in captivity and so such programs haven’t been successful for them to increase numbers.
The Tarsier consumes all types of insects. They are able to get many of them out of the air as they fly around. They leap from tree to tree and have caught birds in motion that way too. They help to reduce the problems in the forest with large amounts of insects. If they didn’t dine on them there would be huge masses of insects out there.
Mating can occur for the Tarsier around 2 years of age. The males will come looking for females that are able to give off strong odors. Females will only mate with one male but the males will often find several females to mate with.
After mating it takes about 6 months for the young to be born. The mothers are very good at caring for them. The young have soft fur and they will be held by the mother or ride on her back.
There are plenty of efforts in place to protect the Tarsier due to the drop in numbers. While they aren’t in danger yet, they are considered to be vulnerable. The goal is to get their numbers up now before the situation gets worse. There are some locations that offer tourists the chance to see them, but not disrupt their habitat. Such efforts have helped people to see the value of them too.
In the Philippines it is against the law to hunt the Tarsier or to keep one as a pet. However, it can be tough to be able to successfully enforce those laws. Many of these animals are smuggled out of the country annually and sold illegally in the black market pet trade.