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Tarsier

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What is a Tarsier?

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A species of small primates extensively found in the islands of southeast Asia. These are the species of small lemur found primarily in the Philippines. Tarsier animal height is between 9cm to 16cm excluding their tails. Tarsier animals are basically small monkeys primarily found in various islands of Southeast Asia. Tails of tarsiers are double in size as compared to their body. The tarsier animal is a monkey with big eyes. Tarsiers are commonly found clinging up the trees. A few years ago tarsiers used to live in rainforests around the world but now they are usually found on islands. Tarsiers are little lemur-like creatures that have a very great sense of smell. Tarsiers have an enriched sense of smell. Like other primates, their ability to smell makes tarsiers a member of the family of apes, humans, and monkeys. Tarsiers have dry noses just like humans and apes, their noses have hairs. These little monkeys are different from lemurs in certain aspects like the nose of a tarsier monkey is not moist and bald like a lemur has. 

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Tarsier Meaning

The species of these little monkeys have got their name tarsier owing to their long ankle bones. Their ankles are much longer and wider as compared to their body. The name tarsier comes from tarsals, which also means torso. They are quite small in size but their body structure is strong because of their long ankle bones and strong legs. Ankle bones are attached to their dorsal structure. Despite their small size, the tarsier is much stronger and flexible. 

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Physical Structure of Tarsier Monkey

Eyes of Tarsiers

The Tarsier monkey has big eyes. They have a very precise vision. These little tarsier animal monkeys can even see in the dark. The Tarsier monkey brain is also small just like their body but their visual cortex part of the brain is well developed. The developed cortex part helps the tarsier monkey to see everything clearly and precisely even in the dark. As these little creatures are nocturnal but they lack the primary feature of a nocturnal animal. Most nocturnal animals have a tapetum, a kind of reflective layer over the eye. Tarsier monkeys don’t have a reflective layer. That’s why they have big eyes and a well-developed visual cortex. Their big and precise eyes help them to hunt for their prey even in the dark. They can be found active during the night. Tarsier monkeys hunt for their prey on the ground as well as on the trees.   

The Body Design of Tarsiers

Tarsiers are little monkeys with very big eyes. Their eyes bulge out from their head, which looks like two headlamps. Tarsiers are primarily nocturnal animals. They are active during the night.


Ankle bones of tarsier monkeys are comparatively longer in size. Their forelimb bones are longer as compared to their body. Tarsier monkeys can rotate their head up to 180 degrees. The face of the tarsier monkey is short while its ears are large and almost always in motion. These little monkeys have membranous ears. Large ears give them a preference to hear the sound more precisely. Tarsiers has thick fur over their body. Tarsier monkeys have a very distinct hearing ability. Like their exceptional vision, these little creatures also have a unique tendency to hear a high-pitched sound. In the night they communicate with their colony by making a distinct vocal sound. They use very high-pitched sounds to communicate with another tarsier monkey. Their thick fur protects them from certain climatic conditions. It also gives them warmth in the chilly winters. The Colour of the thick fur of the tarsier monkey is dark brown and colored Gray. Their tails also have fur but it is scaly like a rat. Although because of the fur over their body and tail, scales of the tail aren’t visible. Most of the species of tarsier monkeys have hairs that seem like a brush. The thick fur coating over the body of tarsier monkeys also gives them protection from insects and mosquitoes.

Movement and Accommodation of Tarsiers

Tarsier monkeys primarily are found clinging upright to trees. Just like a little baby clinging to its mother. Tarsier monkeys also cling to trees in the same way. Philippine tarsiers can mostly be observed clinging on stems and branches of trees. Clinging on trees is their primary activity after eating. The palm of the Tarsier monkey is big and it has a strong grip. Their nails help them to cling to the tree for long hours. A tarsier monkey’s grip works like an adhesive pad. They simply stick to the tree and they can remain in that position for long hours. Tarsier monkeys have the ability to propel themselves from tree to tree. They move from one tree to another propelling themselves like a rocket. Tarsiers are hardly found on the ground. These little monkeys can only be found on small as well as big trees. They hid with the leaves and branches of the tree where they cling upon.  


Elongated limbs of tarsier monkeys play a vital role in their movement from one tree to another. Tarsier monkeys push themselves against a tree with the help of their leg. Their elongated forelimbs help them to catch the branch of another tree. Basically, they swing from one tree to another. Their long and grippy ankles and strong legs help them to leap from one tree to another. Tarsier monkeys can mostly be found on the stem of a tree. Tarsier monkeys prefer to live in hidden branches. Tarsier monkeys are slightly aggressive in nature owing to their eating habits.  

Eating Habits of Tarsiers

Tarsier monkeys are primarily carnivorous. Owing to their little size, it is surprising that this little primate is carnivorous. Tarsier monkeys mostly prefer to eat insects, lizards, and snakes. Their favorite food is insects. They have great efficiency to catch insects. Their long ankle bones and miniature body structure helps them to catch their prey very easily. These little monkeys primarily prefer to eat insects owing to their small size. They can easily catch an insect with their evolutionary hunting instincts. Tarsier monkeys also prefer to eat small lizards and small snakes. These little primates’ leaps from one tree to another to catch their prey. As tarsiers are carnivorous, their hunting instinct is just like other predators. They can even hunt in the dark night. Tarsiers prefer to while clinging on trees and they rest on by clinging on the stem.      

Types of Tarsiers on the Basis of Location and Geographical Conditions

There are Almost 13 different Species of Tarsiers Found in the Southeast Region of Asia.

  1. Malaysian and Indonesian tarsiers

  2. Western tarsiers

  3. South Sulawesi tarsiers

1. Malaysian and Indonesian Tarsiers

Tarsiers found in Malaysian and Indonesian regions have big eyes which bulge out from their skull and the head of this primate is much broader than that of the Philippines’ tarsiers. Their feet are much longer as compared to the Philippines ’ tarsiers. Tarsiers of the Philippines have longer ankles while short feet but tarsiers found in Indonesia and Malaysia have longer feet and broadheads. Tails of tarsiers found in Indonesia and Malaysia are tufted at the end. It seems like someone has tufted their tail with a machine, but it is totally natural. Western tarsiers are mostly found in old frost and the place where vegetation is scrubby. Western tarsiers can also be found around the villages of Malaysia and Indonesia. In the village area, tarsiers can be found around the trees and vegetation. These little creatures aren’t harmful to humans. They prefer to live with villagers because of the availability of proper food. 

2. Western Tarsiers (Philippine)

The tarsier found in the philippine region is one of the smallest species of tarsier found on earth. their size is between 80mm to 160mm. These mini tarsiers are found in islands of the Philippines. mostly in Mindanao, Bohol, Leyte, Samar. Western tarsiers also known and Tarsius bancanus in scientific language, are comparatively bigger in size as compared to tarsiers found in the Philippines and the southern island of Asia. Their basic differentiation in physical structure puts them in different genres of tarsiers. Western tarsiers prefer to live in the forest as well as in the village while southern tarsiers mostly prefer to live in the forest. Southern tarsiers are much more aggressive than western tarsiers, southern tarsiers don’t like to interact with outsiders. Western tarsiers can happily live among villagers without any inconvenience. Southern tarsiers live in a colony and they defend their area from outsiders by making noise. Western tarsiers are very calm and they are human-friendly. Villagers of western Indonesia and Malaysia can be found with tarsiers sticking to their cloth and hand. villagers treat these animals with good perception and provide them food and shelter for their survival.

3. South Sulawesi Tarsiers

South Sulawesi tarsier height is much smaller as compared to other species of tarsiers. They got their name spectral owing to the place Sulawesi. The feet of the Sulawesi are smaller as compared to western tarsiers. Their tails are hairy and much shorter than other species. Sulawesi tarsiers are much smaller in size as compared to tarsiers of other species. Differentiation in the physical structure is a hot topic among the scientists of the world. The most famous tarsiers are pygmy tarsiers. Although scientists thought that pygmy tarsiers are an extinct species as it was last seen in the year 1921. In the year 2008, it was rediscovered by the forest dwellers while looking for their existence. The existence of this little creature is on the verge of collapse. 

Tarsier sometimes make extremely high-pitched sounds in the night to defend their territory. Their whole colony will start making noise if they notice any intruder in their vicinity. Their high-pitched sound has got a prior distinction. The tarsier monkey is the primary species of Sulawesi island. Their vocal call has differentiation, female and male have distinct pitches while kids make a bit lower pitch of the sound. Adults of tarsier can be easily found in pairs. They usually are in pairs or along with their kids clinging to a tree. There is a lot of differentiation in the species of the tarsiers owing to the place they are found. Human settlement and change of forest into fields has wiped out most of the population of tarsiers. The intrusion of humans in their living is causing a bigger shadow over their existence. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How Tarsier Monkeys Live in the Forest? Where do Tarsiers Live?

Ans: Tarsier monkeys can be found in pairs and groups. Adult tarsier monkeys are mostly live-in pairs. Both the paid can be found clinging on trees. Different species of Tarsiers can be found in the southern, western, and eastern parts of the Asian continent. 

2. Where do Tarsiers Live?

Ans: Tarsier monkeys are primarily found in the Philippines and the celebs (Sulawesi). These are mostly island regions in southern Asia. These little monkeys prefer to live in the rain forest region and apart from the Philippines, they can also be found in Sumatra, Borneo, Bangka, and Natuna islands.

3. What Mental and Physical Harassment Philippine Tarsiers Suffer?

Ans: These little primates are being harassed and traumatized by humans. The loud noise causes a lot of trouble to these little creatures. an animal sanctuary is working ahead in the protection of tarsiers. The sanctuary is rewarding people about the life and livelihood of tarsier monkeys. Forests and trees are being cut at rapid speed. Which is causing a lot of trouble to these little species. 

4. Are Tarsiers Endangered Species?

Ans: A vast range of tarsier monkeys is in danger and on the verge of extinction. Some species have been termed to be in the line of extinction. Human settlement is the main reason behind it. Their survival is very crucial in the coming years. Humans have captured their homes and these little creatures are being kept as a pet or in the zoo. It is really devastating for these little animals.