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I read this series when I was very young so the details are fuzzy, but I remember it being about a race of animals resembling rodents or monkeys with no normal speech or anything. However, they have a highly organized sort of tribal society.

I can't remember exactly how many books there were, but I think there were at least four or five. The first few books were adventures set on the alien planet, which was pretty idyllic and beautiful. I remember the aliens moved through the branches of trees.

Throughout the series, the planet was colonized by humans who didn't realize the alien creatures were sentient. The humans proceeded to just move in, assuming there was no preexisting society. The story followed some of the animals/aliens as they struggled in a new human society that saw them as animals.

I vaguely remember scenes where the creatures were kept in cages like gerbils and fed a special food. I think there may have been an animal experimentation scene in it as well.

At the end of the series, some of the aliens finally get the hang of human communication and manage to convey that they're sentient. I feel like there may have been books after that but I'm not sure.

If anyone knows this series, I would really appreciate the help! The memory of these books gets really stuck in my head sometimes and I'd love to re-read them as an adult!

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    It's not Little Fuzzy and its sequels, by any chance? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Fuzzy I've only read the Scalzi re-write, but your summary is a pretty fair description of the plot. – andrewsi Apr 10 '15 at 1:55
  • Wow, that's the one! As soon as I loaded the wiki page I recognized the author name and cover art! Thank you! – coffee Apr 10 '15 at 5:33
  • You might want to add that as an answer - I know little enough about the book that I can't really add anything more than what's in my comment :) – andrewsi Apr 10 '15 at 12:49
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    Aww, I was going to guess Speaker for the Dead. The pequenos were in a similar situation, but they weren't kept in cages or anything. – Omegacron Apr 10 '15 at 16:41
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    @andrewsi - You should add this as an answer. – Valorum Apr 10 '15 at 20:08
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Per the comment by andrewsi on the question, the answer is Little Fuzzy, a 1962 novel by H. Beam Piper, which had several sequels over the years, with the last published in 2012. Except for the first sequel, the rest were completed by other authors.

The story revolves around determining whether a small furry species discovered on the planet Zarathustra is sapient, and features a mild libertarianism that emphasizes sincerity and honesty.

...

Chartered Zarathustra Corporation (under Victor Grego), which installed basic services and colonial outposts initially, and now reaps the benefits of new discoveries, such as the valuable 'sunstones' mined by Holloway until he befriends a tiny, feline-like humanoid, nicknamed 'Little Fuzzy', and its traveling-companions

...

The second book, Fuzzy Sapiens, deals with the newly 'Charterless Zarathustra Company' and its gradual cooperation with the planet's new governor to ensure control over the planet, while the Fuzzies attach themselves to individual human guardians including the Company's staff. It becomes clear that criminals are using the irregular status of the government and of the company to attack it and steal sunstones.

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