Tarsius syrichta is found in the rainforests of the Philippines. This species is most commonly found on Samar, Leyte, Bohol, and Mindanao.
Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )
Other Geographic Terms: island endemic
Tarsius syrichta is a small brownish-grayish mammal. Their colors vary depending upon the region of the Philippines that they inhabit. Some have reddish-brown hair.
Body size is approximately 85 to 160 mm, with weights between 80 and 165 g. They are about the size of a young child's hand. They have a 25 cm long tail that is tufted at the end.
Tarsiers have large ears, resembling a bat, and round faces. The area surrounding their eyes is usually darker than their body, with no white marks anywhere on the face. The eyes are huge, and their vision is acute. In proportion to their body, their eyes are the largest among mammals. The tarsier's great hearing, coupled with their amazing sense of sight, make them highly successful nocturnal hunters. Their heads can rotate 180 degrees.
The legs and arms of these tarsiers are long and slender. Some of their digits have flattened nails and some have claws which are used for grooming. They have pads on their fingers and toes to help them cling to branches. Their legs are strong, and they are capable of jumping distances up to twenty feet.
Tarsiers differ from other prosimians in several characters. These include two grooming claws on each foot, lack of a toothcomb formed by the lower canines and incisors, and a diploid number of eighty chromosomes. Tarsiers are also less vocal than many other primates.
Range mass: 85 to 165 g.
Range length: 80 to 160 mm.
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike
Average basal metabolic rate: 0.43 W.
Habitat and Ecology
Philippine tarsiers are found in areas of tall grasses, bushes, bamboo shoots, and small trees in tropical rainforests. They enjoy the canopy of the jungle, leaping from limb to limb. Tarsiers usually do not move using four limbs; rather, they have developed excellent leaping skills.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest
Philippine tarsiers are primatily insectivorous. They eat insects, spiders, lizards, and small vertebrate animals such as birds. Upon seizing its prey, a tarsier carries it in its mouth and using both hands.
Animal Foods: birds; reptiles; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods
Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )
As predators, these small primates may help to structure insect communities. To the extent that they are preyed upon by other animals, they may impact predator populations.
Predation upon these animals has not been widely reported. However, because of their nocturnal and arboreal habits, they are most likely to fall prey to owls, or to small carnivores which can encounter them in their canopy homes.
Life History and Behavior
Communication and Perception
Tarsiers use varied means of communication. Although less vocal than many primate species, these animals use calls which are often associated with territorial maintenance and male-female spacing. In addition, they use scent marks from urine and glandular secretions to delineate their territories. Tactile communication plays some role between mates and between mothers and their offspring. The role of visual communication has not been established for this species, but because they have very keen eyesight, it is likely that body postures and other visual signals are used.
Communication Channels: tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Other Communication Modes: scent marks
Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic
One T. syrichta is reported to have lived 13.5 years in captivity. It is likely that wild animals do not live as long as their captive counterparts.
Status: captivity: 13.5 (high) years.
Status: captivity: 15.0 years.
Status: captivity: 13.0 years.
Status: captivity: 13.0 years.
Status: captivity: 13.4 years.
Status: captivity: 13.5 years.
Status: captivity: 12.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
These animals are usually seen in male-female pairs, indicating that like other tarsiers, they probably mate monogamously.
Mating System: monogamous
Breeding occurs throughout the year. Tarsier females bear a single young. The gestation period lasts six months. Recent research shows that the breeding season of tarsiers is defined by the availability of insects.
Young are able to capture prey by about 45 days of age, and are thought to be weaned around that time.
Breeding interval: Most tarsiers breed twice per year.
Breeding season: Breeding occurs throughout the year.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average gestation period: 6 months.
Average weaning age: 45 days.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous
Average birth mass: 25.9 g.
Average gestation period: 179 days.
Average number of offspring: 1.
The females have multiple pairs of nipples; however, only the pectoral are used. Offspring are born well-furred and with eyes open. They are able to move about after only two days. Infants are carried by means of their mother's mouth or on her belly. No nest is built. The young tarsiers can climb after two days and jump after four. Normal locomotor patterns ensue at approximately nineteen days. Juveniles tend to be more uniformly colored than adults.
Females provide the bulk of parental care. The role of the male in rearing the young has not been documented.
Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Tarsius syrichta
There are 2 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank. Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species. See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Tarsius syrichta
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Date Listed: 10/19/1976
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10)
Where Listed: Entire
Population location: Entire
Listing status: T
For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Tarsius syrichta , see its USFWS Species Profile
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2000Data Deficient
- 1996Lower Risk/conservation dependent
- 1990Endangered(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Endangered(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
- 1986Endangered(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
The current condition of T. syrichta is threatened and endangered. Captive breeding efforts have been started but to date all have been unsuccessful. Tarsiers have suffered greatly from hunters and trappers who shake the animals out of their trees or chop down the branches of the trees in which they live. They have also become popular in the pet industry, especially in Mexico. However, tarsiers rarely live long in captivity. It has been reported that they are so traumatized by captivity that they beat their heads against their cages, eventually killing themselves. Philippine tarsiers are also significantly affected by the increased rate of deforestation in their native habitat.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened
This species occurs in a number of protected areas.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
There is no known negative impact of these animals on humans, so long as the tarsiers are in their native environment. However, when kept as pets, there is a possibility that they may spread worms and other parasites to their human owners.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Tarsiers are sometimes kept as pets, although their survival in captivity is erratic due to their need for live insects upon which to feed. Scientists are interested in these animals because of their unique taxonomic position, and study of tarsiers may aid human economies.
Positive Impacts: pet trade ; research and education