lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

T is for Tarsier

Today it’s T for tarsier – a heart-meltingly cute little creature – this one is from the Philippines, an image by Yeowatzup on Flikr.

Tarsier yeowatzup

The Philippine tarsier is only 3-6 inches in length (not including its surprisingly long tail) which makes it hard to spot – it’s one of the smallest primates.

Tarsiers live on a few islands in Malaysia, Indonesia and the southern Philippines. There are many subspecies of three groups of tarsier, Western, Eastern and Philippine, but scientists keep reclassifying them so it’s hard to be sure of this!

Tarsiers have remarkably long hind legs, the result of the elongation of their tarsal (ankle) bone – they are the only mammal to have this adaptation and it enables them to jump 40 times their own body length.

Their eyes are enormous and relative to their size the largest of any mammal – each of their eyes is larger than their brain! They are nocturnal hunters and their huge eyes mean they can use all the available light.

They eat insects and hunting with those searchlight eyes is greatly helped by the fact they can rotate their heads nearly 360 degrees.

When they’ve spotted some prey, they carefully position themselves and leap, catching it in their hands and biting off its head.

Their ears are large and membranous, and can hear up to 91 kilohertz, compared to our hearing which can only hear up to 20 kilohertz. It was thought that they were silent – but in fact they’d been crying out all the time in the frequency of a bat, far higher than any other mammal known.

I can’t stop looking at them, so here’s another image by Roberto Verzo on Flikr:

Verzo tarsier bohol

Oh, my.

They use those long fingers to stretch and catch their prey as they leap. They have flat ends and fingernails.

Of course, they are classified Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List, due to loss of habitat.

Both of the above tarsiers have been photographed in a sanctuary in Bohol.

Here is my tarsier poem:




The tarsier

is all surprise,


has ears like wings

of butterflies,


is elongated



eats lizards, insects,

all that flies,


is of the very

smallest size,


except its eyes, its eyes

its mesmer-eyes!



Poem © Liz Brownlee

Photos © Yeowatzup and Roberto Verzo

Information from Livescience, ARKive, BBC, A-Z Animals.

If you would like to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click here.

If you’d like to read about or buy my book, Animal Magic, full of animal poems and fascinating facts, click here.


  1. Love this Liz fab


    • Thanks, Sue. You know what’s going to happen to it…! x


  2. Great poem about this little guy. He reminds me of an alien:)


  3. I WANT onej!!! He’s adorable!!!
    I love your poem. Excellent!!


  4. Delightful! Especially the part about his brain being smaller than his eyes (I know some humans who act that way). – Fawn

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mesmerising is about right – I had to stop looking or I’ll never get anything done today!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The photos don’t really show you how small they are either, Liz, smaller than your hand, so even more scrumptious.


  6. Sweet poem! The eyes mesmer-eyes – love it 🙂 Tarsier is a new one for me and very fascinating. Thanks for introducing this animal.


  7. They are so cute, I actually play a FB game that is running a virtual zoo where you save endangered animals by breeding and releasing them to the wild and they are one of the animals on there, my son loves going through all the animals learning about them


  8. The animal is absolutely adorable (searchlight eyes). I am only heartbroken to think it cries all the time, if that is what the sound actually means. With such sensitive hearing and sight, it must be on sensory overload. The poem is another delight.


    • Ah, well, don’t worry, I meant ‘cries’ as it means in to ‘cry out’ or ‘shout’! Although they are taken to be used as pets. they do not do well in captivity.


  9. anna@herding cats & burning soup

    They are just the cutest darn things. Would love to see one in the wild 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. That sure is an adorable little creature. I’d love to see one in reality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, and going to the Philippines would be a wonderful adventure all by itself, let alone seeing one of these little things!

      Liked by 1 person

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