Philippine Tarsier… shy tree dweller!

tarsheer bw blog

Philippine Tarsier… shy little tree dweller!

Here’s a little fellow that your students will want to learn about!  It is the Philippine Tarsier, whose scientific name is tarsius syrichta.  The name is pronounced tar-SHEER, with the accent on the second syllable.  The name tarsier comes from its long “tarsus”, or ankle bones, which give the tarsier its frog-like leaping ability.

The tarsier can be found on the Philippine islands of Bohol, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao.  One of the world’s smallest primates, it is a close relative of lemurs, lorises and bush-babies. Other tarsier relatives can be found in other parts of the continent of ASIA, namely Borneo, Sumatra, and Indonesia.   

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This nocturnal animal is only about the size of a man’s fist and is a shy rainforest tree-dweller.  During the day, the tarsier sleeps in the hollows of trees and in bushes.  At night it prefers to be higher in the trees, hunting and eating insects with its small sharp teeth.  It can also catch spiders, lizards, frogs and small birds. 

The animal’s round head holds huge bulging eyes.  Unlike other nocturnal animals that have light-reflecting abilities, the tarsier has excellent vision and constantly moving ears that help it find and catch its prey.  Another helpful feature is a special joint in the neck that can allow it to rotate 180 degrees!  When calling out to each other, the tarsiers use different sounds: a shrill squeak when far away and a chirping sound when close.

The fur of the tarsier is grey to dark brown. It has long naked tail, with a tuft of fur at the end, which helps to prop its body when it hugs the tree branch as it sleeps.  Gripping pads on its long fingers and toes are an important help.  Small claws on the second and third toes help with fur grooming.

The female pregnancy is a long six months, and only one offspring is born.  The baby is born fully formed and is able to see right away.  The mother alone provides care for four weeks only, then each is able to do everything an adult does. 

On these islands in the Philippines, human population growth has led to cutting down trees for logging and new farmland.  This has put some of the Philippine tarsiers at risk.  Fortunately local people are trying to protect the tarsier and its environment.  The Philippine Tarsier Foundation in Corella Bohol, allows visitors to view this unique creature in the protected environment of the sanctuary:

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Learn more about the Philippines and its unique animals (the Philippine money Eating Eagle, see image below!), geography, volcanoes and the jeepney vehicles that color its cities with our CartoCraze! Expanded map workshops!  

Many other ISLANDS, MOUNTAINS, RIVERS and DESERTS are featured and will work well with all of the subjects you teach, providing cross-curricular learning, letting maps inspire other subject matter.  

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