My first ever pet was a caterpillar.
Not an ordinary caterpillar by any means.
It was a Privet Hawk Moth caterpillar.
This caterpillar is as long as a man's thumb,sometimes even longer. It is bright green,with white and purple stripes,and has a hard,shiny black and yellow horn
at its tail end.
It lives on privet,as its name suggests,and is by no means easy to find,in spite of its
My infant school was surrounded by high privet hedges. When I first saw one of these
large,chubby fellows I could not believe my eyes. I thought it was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen,and did not understand how I could have missed it before.
I picked it carefully off its twig. It was cool and silky to touch. I took some privet twigs for its dinner and carried it home. Once there, I found a big jam-jar,arranged the twigs as tastefully as possible,and went in search of a length of cotton. I intended to give my caterpillar some freedom and exercise.
The cotton was tied to the caterpillar's horn; I would take it into the garden,gently tip it out of the jar and try to encourage it to enjoy a short walk. Sadly, I soon discovered that caterpillars do not make good pets- they refuse to be trained.( Later, much much later,I had a lovable black bull-terrier who was similarly stubborn).
Within a fortnight my first pet was back in the dark school hedge,munching privet.
I was,however, not discouraged: one day, one wonderful day, I would have a pet of my own...
And that's another story...