Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta)

This nocturnal species has large eyes and large ears that are mobile. The Philippine tarsier has a special adaptation in its neck vertebrae to help it turn its head 180 degrees. It needs to do this because its eyes can not move. The dental formula of this species is 2:1:3:3 on the upper jaw and 1:1:3:3 on the lower jaw (Nowak, 1999). This species has relatively small upper canines (Nowak, 1999). This species lacks a tapetum lucidum found in most nocturnal animals. The Philippine tarsier has two grooming claws on each foot instead of just one. The tail of this species is naked except for a tuft of hair at the end. This species receives its name from the elongated tarsus bone. The pelage color of this species is gray (Rowe, 1996). Females have two pairs of mammae, one inguinal and one pectoral. The average body mass for males is around 134 grams, and for females it is around 117 grams (Rowe, 1996).

The Philippine tarsier is found on the islands of the Philippines. Specifically this species is found on the islands of Samar, Leyte, Bohol, Mindanao, and other smaller islands (Sussman, 1999). It prefers to live in primary and secondary tropical rainforests.

This species is a carnivorous species. The Philippine tarsier mainly eats insects, but also will eat small vertebrates, like lizards. When this species captures prey items that are on the ground they will leap with the hands first, catching the prey item in the mouth if it is small enough (Niemitz, 1984b). The sleeping sites for this species are less than 2 meters from the ground and are found in dense tangles of saplings and ferns or located at the base of clumps of bamboos (Dagosto and Gebo, 1998). This species sleeps in groups (Niemitz, 1979), although Dagosto and Gebo (1997) found that this species sleeps solitarily in the wild. This is a nocturnal and an arboreal species.

This species is a vertical clinger and leaper. Dagosto and Gebo (1998) found that leaping constituted 62% of locomotor bouts, climbing 23%, and quadrupedalism 13%. When traveling this species mostly uses vertical supports (62%) and the trees are usually less than 5 centimeters in diameter (Dagosto and Gebo, 1998). The Philippine tarsier tends to travel and forage at low heights (Dagosto and Gebo, 1998). Having the elongated tarsus helps them in leaping. Also the fibula and tibia is fused on the lower third part going towards the foot which also helps in leaping.

The Philippine tarsier is a solitary species (Dagosto and Gebo, 1997). However, this species was also found to have either a monogamous or polygynous mating system (Wright et al., 1987).

distress call: This is a call given by infants when they are separated from their mothers (Niemitz, 1979).

scent mark with circumoral gland: This is when a female will mark her mate with the gland located around the mouth (Niemitz, 1979).


social grooming: This is when one individual will groom another, removing parasites and dead skin. This has been to be observed by females doing this towards adult males (Niemitz, 1984a).

The Philippine tarsier gives birth to a single offspring. The infants are born with the eyes open and covered with hair (Niemitz, 1979). Mothers will carry around the infants in their mouth (Niemitz, 1984a). The infants are parked in a tree while the mother forages (Rowe, 1996). The male makes a copulatory plug in the females vagina after intercourse (Sussman, 1999). The female's estrus cycle lasts 25-28 days (Nowak, 1999).

Burton, F. 1995. The Multimedia Guide to the Non-human Primates. Prentice-Hall Canada Inc.

Dagosto, M. and Gebo, D.L. 1997. A preliminary study of the Philippine tarsier in Leyte. Asian Primates. Vol. 6, 5-8.

Dagosto, M. and Gebo, D.L. 1998. A preliminary study of the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) in Leyte. (abstract) American Journal of Physical Anthropology. suppl 26, 73.

Niemitz, C. 1979. Outline of the behavior of Tarsius bancanus. in The Study of Prosimian Behavior. eds. G.A. Doyle and R.D. Martin. Academic Press: New York.

Niemitz, C. 1984a. An investigation and review of the territorial behaviour and social organisation of the genus Tarsius. in Biology of Tarsiers. ed. C. Niemitz. Gustav Fischer Verlag: Stuttgart.

Niemitz, C. 1984b. Synecological relationships and feeding behaviour of the genus Tarsius. in Biology of Tarsiers. ed. C. Niemitz. Gustav Fischer Verlag: Stuttgart.

Nowak, R.M. 1999. Walker's Primates of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore.

Rowe, N. 1996. The Pictorial Guide to the Living Primates. Pogonias Press: East Hampton, New York.

Sussman, R.W. 1999. Primate Ecology and Social Structure: Vol. 1 Lorises, Lemurs, and Tarsiers. Pearson Custom Publishing.

Wright, P.C., Haring, D., Simons, E.L., and Andau, P. 1987. Tarsiers: A conservation perspective. Primate Conservation. Vol. 8, 51-54.

Last Updated: October 15, 2003.
[The Primata] [Primate Fact Sheets] [Family Tarsiidae] [Tarsius Links]