Name: Horsfield’s tarsier (Tarsius bancanus)
Status – Vulnerable (VU)
Length – up to 14.5 cm
Tail length – up to 23.5 cm
Weight – up to 134 g
This googly-eyed tree dweller not only has massive eyes to help it hunt at night, but it can also jump five metres straight up, that’s nearly 40 times its own height!
Where am I found?
Horsfield’s tarsier lives in South East Asia, where it is found in Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. Here, it occurs in a wide range of habitats but seems to prefer the edges of secondary forest. It can also be found on the edge of plantations and in shrubby coastal areas, and has been recorded at elevations of up to 1,200 metres.
What do I eat?
The predatory Horsfield’s tarsier is entirely carnivorous. It captures its unfortunate prey by reaching and grabbing it while remaining stationary on a vertical branch, or by leaping onto or towards it. A wide variety of insects are taken, including beetles, grasshoppers, cockroaches, locusts, butterflies, moths, ants and cicadas. Horsfield’s tarsier will also take small vertebrates, such as birds, bats, frogs and even snakes! In general, tarsiers will eat around 10% of their own body weight every 24 hours.
How do I live?
The most noticeable feature of Horsfield’s tarsier is probably its huge eyes, which it needs for its nocturnal hunting habits. Each eye weighs around three grams, making the volume of one eyeball nearly as big as the volume of the tarsier’s entire brain! The eyes are so large that the tarsier cannot rotate them in its eye sockets. This is no problem, however, as it can turn its head nearly 360 degrees. Horsfield’s tarsier is also specially adapted to life in the trees, having powerful leg muscles which it uses to leap effortlessly between trees.
This small primate breeds throughout the year, with the gestation period lasting 178 to 190 days. The single young is born with its eyes open, a full coat of fur and is able to climb at just a day old! The young Horsfield’s tarsier usually clings to the female’s belly until it is weaned, which occurs shortly after it begins to capture its own prey at around 42 days old.
Why am I threatened?
Habitat loss due to forest conversion is the biggest threat to Horsfield’s tarsier. Fires, logging and an increasing demand for palm oil, which has led to rapid expansion of oil palm plantations, have destroyed or degraded vast areas of forest in Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. Horsfield’s tarsier is also threatened by collection for the illegal pet trade.