How does EMODE work?

Using EMODE is easy! But how does it work?


EMODE uses scientific information regarding the real challenges of managing animals’ biological needs as well as human health and safety issues in the home. Therefore, the EMODE system takes into account:

  • biology and behaviour of animal species and types
  • welfare needs of animals according to the ‘five freedoms
  • degree to which impartial and qualified husbandry guidance is available
  • potential public health and safety risks that animals may present to their keepers and others


EMODE cannot account for all factors that may influence whether an animal may be a suitable or unsuitable pet for any particular household. Some other important considerations include:

  • many animals, from shoaling fish to herding horses, need company and suffer if kept alone – can you meet the animal’s social needs? Bear in mind that social species often also fight in close confinement. This issue marks one of the underlying complications of keeping certain animals as pets.
  • if an animal is nocturnal, will your daily routine disturb the animal’s sleep and will you be able to observe the animal’s normal activity to assess its wellbeing during the night?
  • do you have adequate time and energy to invest in caring for the animal?
  • do you have sufficient space for the animal (to run, climb, fly, swim, burrow)?
  • do you have sufficient financial resources to cover all care expenses (including often very high and unexpected veterinary bills)?
  • are there allergies in the household?
  • can someone care for the animal during vacations?
  • do you have permission from your landlord if appropriate?


There are two steps to the EMODE pet scoring tool.

  1. Step 1

    ...provides a general guide to the category or categories the animal falls into in terms of how challenging it may be to keep. It uses ‘pre-weighted’ scores (5-20 points) resulting from a high-level consultation process that determined basic levels of challenge associated with animals by biological class relating to factors such as the typical complexities of maintaining artificial environments, availability of quality guidance, and risk to human health. Further explanation of these pre-weighted scores can be found in the EMODE paper.

  2. Step 2

    ...takes the pre-weighted points and further refines the score by asking six questions that focus on key characteristics of an animal that affect its suitability as a pet, and raise relevant health and safety queries. 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.


EMODE’s scoring method is intended to provide objective information about animals, but should not be interpreted as directly advocating or ‘recommending’ any animal as a pet.