Tarsier Behaviour

Tarsier Behaviour

Habitat. Tarsiers are arboreal. They live in and around the base of tree trunks and the roots of plants such as bamboo. They can occasionally be found in holes are at the top of trees. In Mindanao, tarsiers appear to thrive best in second or third growth thickets along the coast and in the valleys.

Behavior. The Philippine tarsier is nocturnal. They hunt at night, exclusively for animal prey. At day time, they hide in hollows close to the ground. When kept in captivity, individuals may huddle together or intertwine their tails. They are believed to live in groups, larger than just one male and one female. The female appears to take care for the young exclusively: no male parental care has been observed.

Diet. Tarsiers live exclusively on animal prey. Their diet includes primarily insects such as cockroaches and crickets, but may occasionally be extended with reptiles, birds, and bats. A Philippine tarsier in captivity will eat live shrimp and fish in a bowl of water.

Sounds. The tarsier produces a a number of different calls. The loud call is a loud piercing single note. When opponents meet, they produce a soft sweet bird-like trill. When several individuals communicate, they can produce a locust-like chirping. Females have a specials sound to indicate that they are fertile.

Scent Marks. Male tarsiers have epigastric glands, which they use for scent marking.

Reproduction. Females tarsiers have a prosimian-type uterus but a higher primate type placenta. One unusual feature is that they have multiple breast pairs, yet generally only the pectoral pair is functional. The other ones serve as anchoring points for newborn. The gestation period of a tarsier is about 180 days (6 months), and only one young is born at a time. When a tarsier is born, it is already in a well-advanced state of development. It is born well furred and with its eyes open. The head and body length at birth is 66-72 mm, the tail is 114-117 mm long, and its weight is 25-27 grams. They are able to move about after only two days. The mother carries infants with her mouth or on her belly. No nest is built. The female parks her infant while foraging. A young tarsier can climb after two days and jump after four. After about 19 days, young tarsiers already move around much like adults. It is breast-fed upto about 60 days. Juveniles tend to be more uniformly colored than adults. After two years, young tarsiers become sexually mature. The female has an estrus cycle, or recurring period of heat, of 23.5 days. Mating can take place any time of the year. Tarsiers can become 12 to 20 years old.

Where to Meet the Tarsier

You can visit the tarsier at the Philippine Tarsier Foundation, and see it in its natural habitat.

The Philippine Tarsier Foundation,
Km. 14 Canapnapan Corella, Bohol 6300 Philippines
Tel: (0912) 5163375
Mobile: (0918) 6021326
Email: tarsier@mozcom.com
Website: http://www.philippinetarsier.org/.

Please avoid visiting the tarsiers kept in cages along Loboc river. Here, these shy animals have a miserable life, and normally don’t survive for long.

Further Reading

Some notes on primates and the place of the Tarsier within the hierarchy of primates can be found on The Primates by Dennis O’Neil of Palomar College.

Another website featuring pictures of a tarsier is http://www.tarsieruk.homestead.com/Home.html.

Condensed from material by The Philippine Tarsier Foundation

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