Philippines: Tarsiers – world’s cutest primates

These little furry guys are pretty much the reason to come to Philippines – they are the size of a fist and look like a mixture of Gollum and Yoda (perhaps they inspired those characters). Tarsiers are unique species of primates, distinct and different from any other primates (including lemurs), having separated very early in the evolution tree. Tarsiers have humongously massive eyes, the largest eye-to-body ratio of any mammal on earth! Each eyeball is 16mm in diameter and larger than the animal’s brain. The eyes are fixed in the skull and can’t move in sockets, however the head can turn 180 degrees on its neck (well, it can go both directions so I saw one turn his head left to right the entire 360). Tarsiers can hear very high frequencies and the massive eyes allow for perfect night vision. They are the only primates that are entirely carnivorous – praying on insects, lizards, even birds. They are nocturnal and stalk their prey and then jump. For a tiny animal, they can jump up to 3 meters (9 feet). They are quite, docile, and sleepy during the day. Tarsiers are very shy and don’t make good pets, they get stressed very easily and then commit suicide by either starving themselves or banging their head against the wall, cracking the fragile skull. Suicides are not uncommon in the wild either, and supposedly females commit them more often. Another interesting and possibly related fact is that the tarsier sex only happens a couple times per year and last the long entirety of 6-10 seconds. Is that the reason for female suicides? Only one baby is born, fully furry and with eyes open and in 1 day it can climb on its own. There are two tarsier sanctuaries on Bohol where the animals can be observed at close range during the day.