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Common Name: Dian’s tarsier
Scientific Name: Tarsius dentatus

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Tarsiidae
Genus: Tarsius
Species: T. dentatus


Many people know nothing of an animal by the name of Tarsius dentatus, but it is quite an exquisite mammal.  Tarsiers are small bodied, their head-and-body length being 11.5 -12.5 cm, while their long tail is 21.5 - 25 cm long, they generally way from 95 - 130g.  Tarsius dentatus are not only known for their round heads, reduced muzzles, long tails, large orbits, and short necks, but they can also be identified by a grayish-brown coat with a nude tail (aside from the hairs that are found at the end).  Not only that, but you can also spot a Tarsius dentatus by a thick black ring surrounding the eyes, white hairs flanking their upper lip and the middle of their lower lip.  Some of their adaptations would include their ability to turn their head at 180 degrees, and their huge eyes and ears that help them to see and hear in their habitat at night.

Tarsius dentatus live in the central-eastern portion of Sulawesi, Indonesia.  Tarsius dentatus reside in primary, secondary, and mangrove forests, forest gardens.  Not only in those places, but in other habitats of different degrees of human disturbance that provide “adequate shrubby cover”.  They are extremely well at clinging and leaping, so they are probable to live in trees.  They are more likely to live in small groups of 2 - 6, and their home range is believed to be less than one hectare.

The total population of the Tarsius dentatus is currently unknown, but one thing is for sure; their population is decreasing.  Their population decline is mostly connected to loss of habitat, for reasons such as agriculture, illegal logging, agricultural pesticides, and being preyed on by pets, such as cats and dogs.  Not only that, but Tarsiers are also hunted by humans, and driven out of their homes.  They have a low risk on multiple conservation lists due to their nocturnal habits, the ability to adjust to different habitats, and because of the fact that they reside in large parks, where they are protected.  Despite the attempts to preserve the parks in which they live, Tarsius dentatus are still threatened by the destruction of their habitat.

Surprisingly, these small creatures are predators, in terms of the Food Web.  They have a complete digestive system, and they are primarily insectivores that hunt by visual predation, and they eat Crickets, Grasshoppers, and moths.  When they are in captivity, they also eat small lizards and some crustaceans, such as shrimp.  They hunt and capture their prey by carefully watching it’s movements, and leaping forward suddenly to get its food in both hands.  They chew their food in a sided-to-side motion of the jaw while sitting on its hind limbs and grasping a tree branch.  Since they are some of the only primates that are considered “carnivorous”, they do not have much competition for food.

Although they are still being studied, there a few hypothetical predators of the Tarsius dentatus.  These would include birds of prey, civets, and snakes.  They are most likely to evade being eaten by jumping from branch to branch, as they are not only quick, but they have long fingers and opposable thumbs to hook around a branch.  But, wildlife animals are usually not a concern for the Tarsius dentatus; it is mostly house pets and humans that kill or eat them.

There are many interesting facts about this primate.  Such as the fact that the eye of this animal is as large as it’s brain, and in general, that their genus has the largest eyes of primates.  Another surprising thing about this animal; despite looking quite cute and sweet, they are very skilled hunters.  Not only that, but, they have often been compared to gremlins because of their adorable, yet creepy, appearance.

In conclusion, though not many people do know anything of the Tarsius dentatus,  it is an amazing animal that most definitely stands out in the crowd of primates.  Though it is a small animal, it will definitely leave a large impact on our world.

Author: Kristy K.
Published: February 5th,  2011

Photo Credit:
Berrill, Jacquelyn. Wonders of the Monkey World: Monkeys and Apes in the Wild. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1967. Print.
"Primate Factsheets Image: Dian's Tarsier (Tarsius Dentatus)." Web. 14 Feb. 2011.
"Wiki: Tarsier." Wapedia. Web. 14 Feb. 2011. <>.






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