Tarsiers are dry-nosed primates, one of the smallest in the world, built more on the lines of lemurs than monkeys. They have their own set of characteristics that make them a unique kind, one of which is that they are arboreal, spending their entire lives – eating, sleeping and reproducing – in the trees, leaping from one tree to another. Belonging to the genus Tarsius and to the family Tarsiidae, tarsiers were once widely distributed animals but now can only be found in the regions of Southeast Asia. The reasons behind their falling numbers are the destruction of the rain forests and hunting of these animals. Because of this, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have listed different species under, vulnerable to critically endangered to data deficient. Whether because of their declining population or otherwise, tarsiers are among the most fascinating creatures there are. The section below, consisting of more interesting facts about these animals, will explain why. Have a read!
Facts About Tarsier
Height: 10 to 15 cm
Weight: 80 to170 gm
Life Span: 12 to 20 years
Diet: Insects, small reptiles & birds
Habitat: Tropical lowland & coastal forests
Age Of Sexual Maturity: 1 to 2 years
Gestation Period: Six months
Average Litter Size: One
Interesting & Fun Facts about Tarsier
- It is believed by the scientists that the tarsiers may have been in existence from 40 million years.
- Tarsier derived its name from its powerful ankles bones—the tarsals.
- Tarsiers are nocturnal animals and hardly ever show themselves up during the day. Being nocturnal hunters, their large eyes help them gather light from the surroundings, enabling them to hunt with ease.
- Tarsiers love to eat insects. However, they are also known to feed on birds, grasshoppers, bats, etc. They themselves are eaten sometimes by other preys like the snakes and birds.
- In case of an attack by a predator on any one of them, all the tarsiers nearby come together to take on the predator.
- On an average, a tarsier’s head and body is about 10 to 15 cm in length. However, the hind limbs are about twice as long (including the feet). They also have a very thin tail of 20 to 25 cm.
- A tarsier has a very long tail, generally hairless except for the hair tufting at its end, which is used for balancing.
- A tarsier has the largest eyes of all mammals. Considering its size and weight, the eyes should have been much smaller.
- Tarsiers have elongated fingers which are brown in colour and appear like twigs. Their third finger is of the same size as that of the upper arm.
- Tarsiers have short muzzle and seem to have no neck, although they can turn their head around amazingly.
- Because of their high pitched voice (as high as 91 kHz), tarsiers often indulge in singing. Sometimes, both, the male and the female tarsiers perform duets together.
- Tarsiers are one of the few animals that can rotate their heads 360 degrees. It is also an incredible jumper and can jump 40 times its own body length.
- Eyes and the ears are also the most interesting part of the tarsiers. Their eyeballs cannot rotate. They are also able to level out and roll their ears and can unfold them again.
- Tarsiers can’t walk on the ground; they can only hop.
- Young tarsiers are born furred, and with open eyes. Being in gestation period for six months, which is long enough for a tiny creature, is the reason why their physical features are developed at the time of birth.
- A tarsier newborn weighs only 25 – 30 percent of its mother’s weight, which is quite low when compared to infants of other mammals. Male tarsiers are not actively involved in parenting.
- Newborn tarsiers can climb trees from when they are only one day old. After about 40 days or so, they start to hunt too.
- When tarsiers are disturbed from touching and loud noise, they commit suicide by banging their heads on something hard.
- Tarsiers are usually found in family groups. They may hunt alone but they sleep together and sleep with their tales intertwined.
- A mother tarsier can hunt while parking its babies with it.
- Tarsiers often catch their prey by jumping on them and have been known to catch birds that are in motion.
- Tarsiers that live in the wild can live up to 12 years as compared to those in captivity, who live longer.
- Tarsiers have the ability to reduce their body temperatures at night. Because of this, tarsiers are rarely eaten by snakes as they hunt by sensing the body heat.
- Because they are small nocturnal animals with fast locomotion and odd social organization, data relating to their ecology and behaviour has been difficult to obtain.