Category: Tarsier

A cuddly-looking creature – Tarsier

The rarely seen tarsier has tiny, pointed teeth for crunching through its prey. Its eyes are bigger than its own brain, and are used for spotting prey in the dark. A cuddly-looking creature with soft, grayish-fur; about 100 millimeters in height; with rat-like tail which is longer than the body and bat-like ears, the Tarsier (Locally called the maomag). It thrives mostly in secondary dense forests with a diet of crickets, beetles, termites and other insects as well as small animals like lizards, frogs, and even small birds but has almost no natural enemies in the wild. Furthermore, this nocturnal creature has the unique ability of being able to turn its head 180 degrees as well as to jump backward with precision. Yet ironically, is listed as one of the country’s threatened species.Spectral tarsiers are found in primary and secondary rain-forests, though they prefer secondary growth forests. This is likely due to the greater abundance of food items in secondary growth forests. Their habitat ranges from the lowland evergreen rainforest near sea level to the lower montane rain-forest up to 1500 m. Spectral tarsiers have also been found in mangroves and scrub forest.Spectral tarsiers have a small, round body covered in soft, velvety fur. Their pelage ranges from gray to buff-gray in color. They have long scaly tails with tufts of fur only present on the distal third of the tail. Spectral tarsiers exhibit sexual dimorphism: females weigh 102 to 114 g while males weight 118 to 130 g.Members of the genus Tarsius possess long, slender hands, feet, and digits. Their hands are thought to be the longest of any living primate relative to body size. These extremely elongated hands are designed for clinging and gripping despite the lack of opposable thumbs. The third finger of T. tarsier is extremely long and slender and is only 15% shorter than the humerus. This trait is not symmetrically reproduced from the anterior to the posterior, as the fourth digit is the longest of the hindlimb digits. The second and third digits of the hindlimb are equipped with specialized toilet claws. Spectral tarsiers are thought to be the most primitive tarsiers, as they lack disks on the ends of their fingers.One spectral tarsier was 10 years and 9 months of age at the conclusion of a mark and re-capture study, and the only signs of aging in this individual were gray/light hair on the face. Therefore, this probably does not represent the longest lifespan of spectral tarsiers in the wild.A female tarsier greater than 5 years of age currently resides at the Singapore zoo. A closely related species, Tarsius bancanus has a lifespan of 17 years and 7 months in captivity. It is likely that T. tarsier has a similar lifespan in captivity.


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