Philippines Tarsier: smallest primate in the world and so cute

Updated: Mar 9

The Philippine Tarsier is a must-see when visiting in  Bohol. It is a cute and cuddly creature and considered as the world’s smallest primate which measures 4-5 inches is one of the tourist attraction when you visit Bohol.  Their size is no longer than an adult man’s hand and weighs only about 113- 142 grams or 4-5 ounces. They are solitary, nocturnal, and arboreal creatures. This means that during the day, they’re usually sleeping or resting, hidden among the trees, clinging on a branch.

The Philippines Tarsier is very territorial, thus in the many acres of trees, only a few tarsiers were present, if they could be found at all.  With their distinctly huge, round eyes, long tail and cute tiny ears and long fingers, one wouldn’t miss the Philippine Tarsier when they see it hugging trees and looking sleepy most of the time. Bohol tagged as one of our country’s endangered species, built sanctuary and conservatories where they take care and breed the Philippine Tarsier.

Tarsiers Sanctuary in Corella

Tarsier Sanctuary located between Corella and Sikatuna cities, created on the money of the fund – home for half of the world population of tarsiers. And they only have 100 tarsiers. They are free to do whatever they want because the area is massive, quite perfect for the tarsier since they are territorial and require at least a hectare of land per individual.

Sanctuary Garden

Tarsier Sanctuary is a quiet and clean place. You can buy your ticket and walk along a designated path with guides posted along the way pointing out these awesome little creatures that should be sleeping. They are cool to see, but you have to be quiet as to not wake them up.

Staff in the centre only controls the population, treats and feeds, and makes bypassing find tarsiers current location every morning. Tarsiers are nocturnal animals and they are practically inactive during the daytime. Usually, they sit at the same place the whole day. Those who were found this morning are shown to tourists this day. For visitors allotted the only one hectare of the total area of 10 hectares. So every time you hope that this day there are more tarsiers, and they are close. But nobody can guarantee it.

Sanctuary guides posted along the way

We’ve seen only three tarsiers. One of them was close enough, so we could look at it very carefully and take pictures. It was enough to assume that we did not come in vain. Incredibly huge eyes and facial expressions muzzles can not leave anyone indifferent! Taking to hands, stroking and scaring of tarsiers are strictly prohibited.  If you frequently hold them in your hands, it will be under such stress that it will grow stiff and eventually stop breathing. It is very inviting to do so, especially since even at daytime, the animal is not easily scared by approaching people and tends to rest on tree trunks and twigs at eye level. Their comfort is carefully guarded.

Tarsier Food

We made sure to supplement our knowledge of these interesting creatures with informational posters and exhibits.

Tarsier Conservation Area in Loboc

Tarsier Conservation Area in Loboc River is a popular destination among tourists mainly because of its close proximity to Bohol’s famed spots like the Biliran Man-made forest and the “Chocolate Hills“. It is also often a part of the packaged tours on the island, hence the reason why this became one of our experiences during our grand tour in Bohol.

After getting the ticket, they gave us these postcards

Upon entering, you would need to pay Php 60. You will then get your ticket plus a take-home postcard. Then you will be oriented about the dos and don’ts when inside the area. Tarsier conservation needs some more work because the staff has to explain the significance of protecting these endangered species.

Rules you must follow

According to some locals, some officials here captive tarsier previously displayed for tourists for decades. Tarsier’s here were poked with sticks, blinded by flash cameras, endured day-long petting and force-feeding from tourists. Tarsier display owners were widely criticized for allowing this to happen.

Tarsier Conservation trail

Crowds are careless not maintaining the silence policy. Sometimes people go beyond the boundary to take pictures. Conservation is nowhere been explained. Respect the animal's privacy to a certain extent or let it just go extinct. Tourist time here is from February to April based on our tour guide. It is a sensitive animal and already the traffic outside in the main road is loud enough and let not the people be louder. I wish that they improve the rules more to conserve this precious rare animal.

Tarsier Conservation front view and parking

Conservation is a  three-hectare area is for tarsier viewing with pebbled pathways for visitors laid out around the wooded sanctuary while a thatched-roofed waiting area showcasing tarsier souvenirs has been constructed to accommodate the expected influx of visitors. Umbrellas are also available for the visitors during inclement weather while trained guides will usher tourists around the hilly terrain.


Conservation area  DOES NOT have the tarsiers best interest as its main priority only money. If you wish to support the conservation of the tarsier do not go here instead ask to be taken to Wildlife Sanctuary in Corella. This place has busloads of tourists coming in, all shouting, squealing talking and not once did any of the staff ask them to be quite.

Tarsier makeshift “roof”

Tarsier is placed there every day for the tourists to see. Just look at the makeshift “roof” that each of these tarsiers has! The area where they are kept is in a cage-like enclosure old rusty unkept.

People taking pictures and attempting to touch tarsier

If you go to Corella you walk along a path with signs telling you about the man who started this centre and that you need to be very quiet. Also even before you start the tour and you buy your ticket you are asked to be a quiet and only whisper.

A mother tarsier taking care of her child in Sanctuary Corella

Although smaller than this place you will see them closer and get some wonderful pictures you will also see how the staff here have only one objective and that is the well-being of the Tarsier.

NOTE: Please avoid visiting the tarsiers kept in cages along  Conservation Area in Loboc river. Here, these shy animals have a miserable life, and normally don’t survive for long.

TRIVIA:  Did you know that tarsiers are ultra-sensitive to light? That’s why tourists paying them a visit should not use any form of camera flash because they might die out of stress. Tarsiers are generally sweet and loving mammals. They are so sweet to the extent that if their tarsier partners die, they will also be affected and possible to die a few days after.


  1. Head of a tarsier is able to turn 360 degrees so that this primate can see behind it without moving its body.

  2. The Tarsier is a unique animal as they are the only completely carnivorous primates in the world. Insects make up the bulk of a Tarsier’s diet along with small vertebrates such as frogs, lizards and small birds.

  3. Tarsiers have the largest eyes of any mammal in relation to their body size.

  4. Each eye of a tarsier is actually heavier than it’s the brain.

  5. The Philippine tarsier’s pregnancy lasts about 6 months. Each tarsier female could get the only one child per year.

  6. Tarsiers have facial muscles, so they can change the expression of their “face” that makes these animals even more lovely.

  7. Tarsiers get their name from extremely elongated tarsus (ankle) bones of the feet.

  8. The Philippines thought that tarsier is pets of forest gods.

If you make your way to Bohol, seeing the tarsiers and the Chocolate Hills are certainly must-do and well worth it.

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