Tarsiers are adorable cute animals with giant eyes and immensely soft fur. You can watch tarsiers in two centers in Bohol island: Tarsier Sanctuary near Corella and Tarsier Conservation Area near Loboc.
We chose Tarsier Sanctuary, located in a forrest between Corella and Sikatuna cities, because it’s a place where tarsiers live in the wild. They are free to do whatever they want, even to leave the territory of the sanctuary. Staff in the center only controls population, treats and feeds, and makes bypassing find tarsiers current location every morning. Tarsiers are nocturnal animals and they are practically inactive during daytime. Usually they sit at the same place the whole day. Those who were found this morning are shown to tourists this day.
For visitors allotted the only one hectare of the total area of 10 hectares. So every time you hope that this day there are more tarsiers, and they are close. But nobody can guarantee it. We’ve seen only three tarsiers. One of them was close enough, so we could look at it very carefully and make pictures. It was enough to assume that we did not come in vain. Incredibly huge eyes and facial expressions muzzles can not leave anyone indifferent! Taking to hands, stroking and scaring of tarsiers are strictly prohibited. Their comfort is carefully guarded.
I must admit that it’s not easy to find a tarsier in palm leafs or between tree branches.
Short video (0:18) in Tarsier Sanctuary
Threats to the Species
Tarsiers are officially recognized as endangered species. The dwindling of Philippine forests – the Philippine tarsier’s natural forest habitat – has posed a grave and significant threat to the survival of the Philippine tarsier. Also they have more natural enemies now. Some time ago they were snakes and owls, now even dogs and cats.
Tarsiers are protected by a special law prohibiting buying and selling animals. In 1997 Philippine Tarsier Foundation Inc., was based in Tagbilaran, Bohol island. Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella mentioned above were created on money of the fund. This center is home for a half of the world population of tarsiers. And it’s only 100 animals!
What Are You, Tarsier?
One of dangers of captivity is the tarsiers’s tendency to “commit suicide”.
Contrary to a popular belief that tarsiers are shivery and defenseless, they are desperate and freedom-loving animals. Tarsiers do not do well in captivity. As a rule it leads to the death of the animal in a short time. Tarsiers can not get used to captivity, in an attempt to escape, they often break their heads against the bars of cells.
In the natural environment tarsier requires quite a large area – about one hectare. They are desperate to protect it. If other tarsiers were noticed in the territory – a fight is inevitable. Often it leads to the death of one of the animals.
Where Else Can You Find Tarsiers?
We were lucky to see tarsiers during the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo. They really are very active with the sunset, tirelessly jumping from branch to branch. However, I didn’t notice the special yellow glow of eyes. Maybe because the cell was not illuminated. Animals can be recognized only by the movements.
Some Facts About Tarsiers
- Philippine tarsier is a member of the approximately 45-million-year-old family Tarsiidae.
- Philippine tarsier is endemic to the Philippine archipelago. Established populations are present primarily on the islands of Bohol, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao.
- Tarsiers are really tiny animals. Their body is no more than a human palm.
- Long hind legs enable tarsiers to leap distances of up to 5 meters between branches. 5 meters for just 10 cm body length!
- Head of a tarsier are able to turn 360 degrees so that this primate can see behind it without moving it’s body.
- The Tarsier is a unique animal as they are the only completely carnivorous primates in the world. Insects make up the bulk of a Tarsier’s diet along with small vertebrates such as frogs, lizards and small birds.
- Tarsiers have the largest eyes of any mammal in relation to their body size.
- Each eye of a tarsier is actually heavier than it’s brain.
- The Philippine tarsier’s pregnancy lasts about 6 months. Each tarsier female could get the only one child per year.
- Tarsiers have facial muscles, so they can change the expression of their “face” that makes these animals even more lovely.
- Tarsiers get their name from extremely elongated tarsus (ankle) bones of the feet.
- Philippines thought that tarsier are pets of forest gods.
- There is an opinion that tarsier was a prototype for Master Yoda. :)
How to Get to Tarsiers Sanctuary?
Read here about the way to Tarsiers Sanctuary from Tagbilaran or Loboc. You just need to take a bust that goes to Sikatuna. From the highway you need to go a little bit deeper to the ticket office, and then another five minutes to the building, where you meet a guide who conducts to the territory, show tarsiers and provide you with some information about these amazing animals.
- Place: Tarsier Sanctuary
- Nearest town: Corella, Bohol, Philippines
- Opening hours: 9.00 – 16.00
- Ticket price: 50 pesos
- Time for visit: 30-60 minutes