We’re here to help! If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for in the frequently asked questions below then please contact us.

What is EMODE?

EMODE is a scientific yet user-friendly system that allows people to score an animal as ‘Easy’, ‘Moderate’, ‘Difficult’ or ‘Extreme’ in terms of how challenging it is to keep.

For more information see What is EMODE?

How reliable is EMODE?

Like any system that relies on inputted information, the answer can vary. Therefore it is important that you know as much as possible about an animal when using EMODE - the more accurate the information entered, the more accurate the answer. 

For more information see Good information and advice.

Is EMODE pro or anti pets?

Neither. EMODE merely provides a scientific tool that ‘scores’ an animal in terms of how challenging it is to keep. This assists anyone looking to acquire an animal to make an informed decision, thus helping to avoid problems for both animals and people that may arise when someone takes on an animal that may be more difficult to look after than they believed.

Does EMODE take into account the experience of the keeper?

EMODE recognises that different people have different levels of knowledge and skill when caring for animals. For example, scientists with very specific qualifications and facilities are likely to care for animals more successfully than novices. However, EMODE is primarily aimed at the unqualified and/or novice keeper.

Does EMODE recommend certain animals as good pets to keep?

No. EMODE is an objective tool and therefore does not advocate or recommend any animal as a pet.

What is the basis for the pre-weighted scores in Step One?

The ‘pre-weighted’ scores (5-20 points) that ‘pre-start’ the general scoring system for EMODE resulted from a high-level consultation process that determined basic levels of challenge associated with animals by biological class and relate to factors such as the typical complexities of maintaining artificial environments, availability of quality guidance, and risk to human health.

How were the six EMODE questions in Step Two chosen?

The six questions focus on key characteristics of an animal that affect its suitability as a pet. Other questions could be asked, but the team behind EMODE felt that the six questions covered the essentials well and that other relevant and objective questions would not significantly change the way the system works.

Can I get answers to the six questions from an exotic pet forum or the staff at my local pet shop or hobbyist group?

Probably not. People who sell animals generally have a vested interest in promoting them as ‘suitable’ pets and hobbyists are often driven by their passion for keeping animals and not by science. Pet shop keepers and hobbyists often understate the complexity of animals’ needs and play down any health risks to people. Offering correct information may be bad for business! Exotic pet forum users may also be passionate about keeping pets, but the advice they offer is commonly based on low quality information that they have themselves picked up from other forum users.

Why is it that according to EMODE, the sort of animals that my child would like fall into the ‘Difficult’ or ‘Extreme’ categories, but the person at the pet shop describes them as easy?

Pet shops and hobbyists may make money or expand their interests by describing certain animals as “easy to keep” where in fact this is often a gross exaggeration. EMODE provides objective answers based on the biological needs of animals and their risks to people. Therefore EMODE has no reason for understating or overstating the challenges involved in keeping a pet.

How is it possible that a mongrel dog has a score in the ‘moderate’ category and a corn snake has a score in the ‘difficult’ category? Surely a snake is easier to care for than a dog?

There are several reasons why dogs score as easier to keep than, for example, corn snakes. Dogs are domesticated animals with special genetic characteristics that make them amenable to share their lives with humans. No reptiles are domesticated and all have genetic characteristics that make them want to remain wild. Dogs are free to roam and people can communicate with them quite easily. Corn snakes are caged against their will and humans do not communicate well with reptiles - thus their needs are difficult for people to assess. Dogs are well understood and successfully treated by local veterinarians who are typically experts in all aspects of canine care. Very few vets are expert in reptile care. Dogs can therefore be better provided for than corn snakes.

Why are there public health warnings for exotic pets, but not for animals such as cats and dogs?

Cats and dogs can pose risks to public health and safety, but these risks are well understood and addressed by local veterinarians and doctors, whereas exotic pets pose more diverse risks including unusual bugs and generally present more challenging problems.

Is there an alternative to EMODE?

No. There is nothing quite like EMODE. Whilst there are other independent scientific systems (e.g. Schuppli & Fraser, 2000; Koene, 2012) that assess the suitability of different species as pets, these are aimed at the scientific community and are difficult for non-scientists to use or provide only broad principles not necessarily helpful for most people to score a particular animal. There are other websites for assessing pet suitability and that recommend certain animals (including exotics) as pets, but we advise great caution if using such sources due to the involvement of vested interests and misinformation.

What about environmental & ecological issues with keeping certain pets?

The exotic pet industry is well known for its association with, and contribution to, environmental and ecological problems. These problems include: depletion and/or decimation of natural populations of animals due to their wild-capture directly for selling; alteration, imbalance, and other harm done to ecologies from which animals are taken; collection of animals to breed on ‘ranches’ – so their offspring can be sold, and; incidental release of species from other regions into local habitat where they may form invasive alien species. The exotic pet industry is also well known for misleadingly stating that animals are captive-bred when in fact many are wild-caught. EMODE does not account for environmental, ecological and conservation issues because these were considered too changeable to include. This means that regardless of what scores a species attains under EMODE, it is only sensible and responsible to also pay heed to the possible additional environmental, ecological and conservation impacts that acquiring an animal may involve.