Tarsier: One Weird Animal You’ve Never Heard Of

Hannah Sophia

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Tarsier: One Weird Animal You’ve Never Heard Of

While exploring the beautiful island of Bohol, home to paradisiacal white-sand shores, chocolate-colored hills, and a magnificent turquoise river, I stumbled across something… unexpected. On this island lives a rather peculiar little animal that you’ve probably never heard of: the tarsier.

Tarsier in the Philippines

Yep, that little guy right there is a tarsier. They are also the oldest surviving primate group at forty-five million years old! They have one of the slowest fetal growth rates of any mammal, taking six months to reach a birth weight of 23 grams, or .05lbs. If you think about a stick of butter being about 115 grams, or .25 pounds, you might be able to begin to imagine just how small that is. But despite their small stature, they are solitary and territorial animals. Don’t mess with them! 

Being one of the world's smallest primates you can imagine how vulnerable they are to the outside world. It makes sense as to why they feel the need to protect themselves with such tenacity.

Can you believe that a single tarsier needs at least a hectare of space?


Hannah Sophia

This brings up a point that is especially important to me. When visiting animals on your trip, always do thorough research on how the animals are treated. Through this, you can ensure the integrity of the treatment of animals. Personally, I did not swim with the whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu — no matter how cool the photo could have been — because of some of the research I did on their treatment. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to swim with whale sharks, but they feed the animals to lure them out of their natural habitat just for show, which is something I just can’t support.

The tarsier sanctuary I visited is well managed. The monkeys travel through a small jungle road that leads to a few trees where they sleep during the day. Tarsiers are nocturnal animals and should not be disturbed during the day time. There are about a hundred in this area but only eight are visible to the public. Bohol is very committed to the survival of this endangered creature.

Tarsier hugging branch

Photo by Christine Wehrmeier on Unsplash

Curiosity

Hannah Sophia is a self-taught photographer and storyteller. To her, traveling is wisdom. “I'd rather have the world on my résumé than a big company name,” she says. After graduating as a stylist, she started her own business but felt the need to drop it all in search of freedom and adventure.

The guides who look after their little friends keep the noise and rumble of the public to a minimum and have the comfort of these animals as their highest priority. Although it is amazing to watch them, prepare yourself for the inevitable group of tourists who all want the best photo. In a way, it feels sad that this became more important than the well-being of the little ones who need protection in this world. Nevertheless, it is definitely worth the visit— so long as you go with respect and follow through with your good intentions. Rent a motorbike, drive into the windy islands of Bohol and visit a tarsier sanctuary— they are irresistible.

P.S. To learn more about the tarsier watch this hilarious video by Ze Frank

Hannah Sophia
Writer & Photographer
Zutphen, Netherlands
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