Western Tarsir Western Tarsier
Western Tarsier

Scientific Classification

Common Name
western tarsier, Horsfield’s tarsier
Genus Species
Tarsius bancanus
4 subspecies are currently recognized

Fast Facts

Tarsier coloration varies between buff-gray and beige.  They have long hind legs and long, skinny fingers and toes to help them climb and leap.  As nocturnal animals, their huge eyes and big ears help them see and hear in the dark.
Head and body length:  11.5 to 14.5 cm (4.5 to 5.7 in.)
Tail length:  20 to 23.5 cm (7.9 to 9.2 in.)
105 to 135 g (3.7 to 4.8 oz.)
The species is entirely carnivorous, eating mainly insects including beetles, grasshoppers, cockroaches, butterflies, moths, praying mantis, ants and cicadas. They may also feed on small vertebrates including bats, snakes, and birds.
6 months 
Sexual Maturity
1 year 
Life Span
Around 8 years
The Western tarsier is found in Brunei, Indonesia, Borneo and Malaysia
The Western tarsier can live in both primary and secondary forest, as well as along the coasts or on the edge of plantations. They are often described as a lowland species, most common below 100 m elevation; however, there is at least one record from 1,200 m
Global: Unknown; the populations is decreasing but is not severely fragmented
IUCN: Vulnerable
CITES: Appendix II; protected by law in Indonesia and in Malaysia
USFWS: Not Listed

Fun Facts

  1. The large forward-facing eyes allow tarsiers to accurately assess distances for safe leaping. Tarsiers can leap distances up to 5.4 m (18 ft.).
  2. Tarsiers capable of turning their heads nearly 180° in each direction, allowing them the ability to rotate their heads almost 360°.
  3. These animals are nocturnal and exhibit adaptations for vertical clinging and leaping modes of locomotion and prey capture.
  4. Tarsiers get their name from their long tarsal (ankle) bones, which help propel them while leaping.
  5. The flat, fleshy pads at the end of tarsiers’ fingers and toes allow them to climb smooth vertical surfaces.
  6. Tarsiers live in pairs.

Ecology and Conservation

The principle threat is habitat loss due to forest conversion, especially due to expanding oil palm plantations, fires and logging. Over the last 20 years, at least 30% of their habitat has been lost.
Exploitation levels can be regionally high for the pet trade, yet impacts at the population level are unknown.
Tarsiers can suffer, directly and indirectly, from contamination due to agricultural pesticides.
Tarsiers help regulate insect and small vertebrate populations since they can eat nearly 10% of their own weight each day, 10 to 14 g (0.35 to 0.5 oz.). They are also a food source for a variety of larger predators.


Macdonald, David , ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxfordshire: Andromeda Oxford Ltd, 2001.

Shekelle, M. & Yustian, I. 2008. Tarsius bancanus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T21488A9286601. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T21488A9286601.en. Downloaded on 09 October 2018.
Primate Info Net - Library and Information Service. National Primate Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/tarsier. Downloaded on 09 October 2018.