I first read this story more than fifteen years ago, but I'm sure the book is much older and I have had serious trouble tracking it down.

It was a story about lizard-like aliens that lived in a very dense forest/tropical world. It mentions their anatomy having long claws that they click when threatened, secondary eyelids, warming their skin in the sun and the females being much larger, aggressive and having larger crests than the males. It mentions hatchlings and in-fighting amongst territorial clan, having pets called Lashas and them sleeping in large water filled tanks.

The story is told from a young male alien who finds a crash landed ship that contains a human being in a spacesuit. I remember a scene in which the human starts crying and they are confused by them. They help the human out, but I cannot remember the ending.

Any help would be very much appreciated.

  • Was it a full-length novel, or a short story in an anthology?
    – user14111
    Apr 23, 2014 at 22:58
  • 1
    Oh it was a full story. A short story, for only younger readers, but it was on its own. At least, the version that I read was just a single book.
    – PixelWitch
    Apr 23, 2014 at 23:07
  • Cookoo's Egg by CJ Cherryh perhaps?
    – WombatPM
    Apr 25, 2014 at 3:31

2 Answers 2


You may be thinking about Star Hatchling by Margaret Bechard. From the author's website:

Before the star fell near his village and the hatchling emerged, Shem had never known real fear. There were vicious Outsiders beyond their territory, but his family’s strong females had always kept the males safe. But this hatchling, this creature, would scare even an Outsider. And after it molts, its new body is even more hideous.

Shem doesn’t know that the creature is as scared as he is. For the creature is a human, a girl separated from her family on an alien world. Luckily she has been trained in first contact protocol. Unfortunately, Shem hasn’t …

  • 3
    Can you explain why you think this is the correct story? This guide might help you improve your answer
    – Valorum
    Apr 17, 2016 at 9:39
  • 1
    Anyone thinking this could be the answer might be interested in the following question with this book as the accepted answer: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/163288/…
    – Otis
    Jul 14, 2017 at 19:06

I agree that it sounds most like Cuckoo's Egg by CJ Cherryh; as mentioned by WombatPM. It is not an exact match to your description but it is close enough that this might be the answer.

The book introduces the alien Shonunin race, and the plot of the novel concerns a male Shonun raising a human boy. The book's title is therefore a reference the practice of brood parasitism among certain species of cuckoo birds. In this practice, the cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds' nests and the unwitting hosts then expend their energy hatching the cuckoo's eggs. The metaphor is not precisely applied in this case because the Shonun in the book is knowingly and deliberately raising a human child rather than having been tricked into doing so.

In Cuckoo's Egg Cherryh adopts the less common approach in science fiction stories containing aliens of relating the story from the alien's (Shonunin) perspective, thus making the humans the aliens

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