Wild Fact #923 – This Animal is Bound to Turn Heads – Philippine Tarsier

Wild Fact #923 – This Animal is Bound to Turn Heads – Philippine Tarsier


Photo by yeowatzup at http://www.flickr.com/photos/yeowatzup

Yesterday we talked about insects so let’s take a different route today and talk about an animal that eats insects.  The Philippine tarsier is often referred to as the smallest monkey in the world. Although, this primate is only 9-16 cm (3.5 – 6″) in length (excluding the tail) it doesn’t classify as the smallest monkey since it really isn’t a monkey.  The Philippine tarsier is a primate but it has a separate sub-order.  In fact they are more closely related to the lemur.  This doesn’t take anything away from the interesting characteristics that this little critter posess.

The Philippine tarsier is nocturnal animal that relies on its senses to capture their prey.  Obviously, you have noticed the large eyes of the tarsier which help capture as much light as possible while hunting at night.  The eyes of the tarsier do not rotate which means they have little to no peripheral vision.  Don’t worry, the Philippine tarsier has found a solution to this problem.  The tarsier is the only primate that can rotate their head 180 degrees.  Similar to that creepy girl in that horror movie, which I can’t remember the name to.  You know what! I am going to give 5 Wild Facts Bonus Points to the person that can tell me the movie I am thinking about!

The Philippine tarsier also has a few other adaptations to help them survive.  For example they have excellent hearing which assists them throughout the night.  As well, they have extraordinary legs which can be twice as long as their head and body combined.  This allows them to jump as much as 40 times their length. Like other primates their frist toe is completely opposable which assists them in gripping tree branches.  Finally, all the fingers and toes of the tarsier have flattened nails except for the second and third toes which are more claw-like.  These specialized claws assist with grooming.  We all know how much primates like to groom so this is actually an important feature.

Philippine Tarsier Fast Fact: The eye of the Philippine tarsier is actually larger than it’s brain and stomach.  I have heard of the expression my eyes are bigger than my stomach but never my eyes are bigger than my brain!

I hope you enjoyed today’s fact.  Check out the picture of the Philippine tarsier below.  Does the fact that they can turn their heads around like this creep anyone else out?



  1. Avatar
    JuneZach December 08, 2009

    Hey! This species could rarely be found! The amazing thing? You could only find it in the exact place where I am living! We are so blessed! =D

    If you do not mind, you actually misspelled “Philippines”. ;D

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 08, 2009

      Hi June,

      First of all, I apologize for mispelling Philippines! I don’t know where my head was at last night. Thank you very much for pointing that out.

      That is incredible that you actually have the Philippine tarsier in your area. Have you been lucky enough to see them? Do you have any cool stories about them?

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Avatar
        JuneZach December 09, 2009


        The ONLY place where you can see the endangered Philippine tarsier in the Philippines is BOHOL, the exact province where I came from.

        I do have some pictures with them! LOL

        Any ideas how can I share it to you? ;D

        • Avatar
          Nathan December 09, 2009

          That is still pretty cool that they are in the same province as you.

          I sent you an e-mail if you would like to send some pictures. I would love to see some pics of this amazing animal.


    • Avatar
      Nathan December 08, 2009

      I know! They are the best!

      Imagine if we had eyes like this!

  2. Avatar
    Jen December 08, 2009

    The movie would be “The Exorcist”. Never saw it (the commercials creeped me out :o) but I read the book. He sure is a cute little critter though, isn’t he?

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 08, 2009

      Thanks Jen!

      Of course it was The Exorcist. A classic horror flick! That is funny that you didn’t watch the movie because the commercial was too creepy.

      He is definitely a cute critter! Much better than some of last weeks animals.

  3. Avatar
    Linda December 08, 2009

    Interesting little guy. The second picture does remind me of a bad experience at the theater. I saw the movie way back when it came out and couldn’t go into my closet at night for some time afterward, so I guess you could say it creeped me out somewhat!! At the very end of the movie the theater was dead silent; she is about to say good-bye to the priest who took away her demons and as she approaches the priest I screamed and the entire theater busted out in laughter. This movie proved to be horrifying and embarrassing for me! I’ll second Jen’s answer – “The Exorcist” with Linda Blair.

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 08, 2009

      I would have loved to have been there when you screamed in the theatre! It is not often you get to be scared and embarrassed at the same time!

      Both you and Jen will get the 5 Wild Fact Bonus Points to be redeemed for who knows what!

      Thanks for sharing The Exorcist story! It made me laugh.

  4. Avatar
    Marg December 08, 2009

    That sure is a little guy with such big eyes. But he is really cute. That is interesting that they are rarely found.

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 08, 2009

      I thought that was pretty interesting that June is lucky enough to have these rare animals in their area. The big eyes make them very cute!

  5. Avatar
    Buggys December 08, 2009

    This is one of those things that is so ugly that it’s cute! The head turning is pretty creepy. Moms need to be able to do that!

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 08, 2009

      I think my mom was able to turn her head around like that.

      So ugly that it’s cute! That is a pretty good way to describe the Philippine Tarsier!

  6. Avatar
    Bev Lawrence December 09, 2009

    Makes me think of an alien flick with the eyes.

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 09, 2009

      Yeah, the eyes and the spinning head. It may be starring in the next sci-fi flick.

  7. Avatar
    Man Over Board December 11, 2009

    Jeesh, I had no idea they were hard to find. Because at my house we have them running all over the place. We call them Bulgies, cuz of their eyes. But now i know their real name, tarsier.

    By the way, not only do they like insects, their favorite food are stale cheeze doodles, preferably the ones found in the couch cushions.

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 12, 2009

      You actually have these all over the place? I like the name Bulgies!!

      I will have to write a paper on the tarsiers preference for stale, couch cheeze doodles. I think this is the beginning of a very fruitful Master’s Thesis.

  8. Avatar
    kanjiruminamoto February 12, 2011

    What a Cute Creature, eventhough I live in the Philippines I have never seen one T_T, Co’z I never been in Bohol huhu!

    • Avatar
      Nathan July 27, 2011

      They certainly do look like a cross between a Gremlin and an Owl!!

      I love your closeup photos you took of them. I am definitely envious of your journey through Asia. It must have been thrilling!

  9. Avatar
    sherwelle February 02, 2014

    I also live in Philippines and I saw this when I am doing my homework

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