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So, I have 11 rats of various ages. All but one are over the age of 1 (almost 1.5). They are, for the most part, slowing considerably down. They're now less likely to use a full hour out of the cage let alone multiple hours.

An idea I've been toying with is to split up free range. That is, to pull 3/4 out at a time to play so have 3 free range sessions. This way we can all have time together and I know everyone is getting their exercise - as it is, my boys are coming out for maybe 20 min tops and are really porking on the pounds.

I'm worried, however, about perceived favoritism and group dynamics suffering by havin less of a family play time and more of a group play time. Any experience here?

I'm thinking of doing the shy ones together (Artemis, Athena, Demetria); the boys / my elderly girl (Remus Iris Elias and Milo) then the energetic ones (Opie, Persephone, Circe, echo).
 

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I personally do both here. Group play most days for a an hour or two depending. I don't worry about missing full group plays however. Mine are all much younger than your's so don't tire as easily. The rest of the time who ever asks to come out hangs out with me on the bed to watch tv or much around on my computer. It can be anything from 1 to 4 rats out during those times. My husband will take whoever jumps on him and runs into his hood or sleeve and they will hang out at his desk while he is on his computer. My daughter will take a group in the bathroom and play with them. Then we have a smaller cage in the living room next to where my daughter sits and she'll take a group out there sometimes too.

I like doing it that way cause I get to know everyone a little more individually. The girls usually beg to get out cause they actually want to play. The boys pretty much always beg, but they just really want to hang out with a human. The girls are more content in their cage to play as long as we change things out often. The really like to hang out in the living room cage, I think for just the change of pace. They get all crazy and bounce all over the place and hang from the top of it. The boys really don't want to be in the cage ever if they are awake. Even if it's not actual play time and just sitting on my shoulder while I do stuff around the house it's probably decent exercise, especially for an older rat. They have to keep balanced up there which I would think is good for them. Of course I'm a mess of little scratches all around my neck, up and down my arms and even my legs. Kind of embarrassing I look like an abused women. :)

My rats are pretty much all day rats. All of them sleep pretty much all night and only cat nap all day.
 

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Even though I only have 3 (including 2 of Nanashi's boys) I recently had to do two different play sessions because one of my rats Tux no longer gets along with any other rats and lives alone. At first I thought I could keep him living alone but allow them all together for play time since it is less intimate, but if one of them tries to sniff or touch Tux he freaks out.

Favoritism hasn't been a problem. The brothers are the same as they have always been, and I think Tux is happier being alone and bonding with me. He was never mean to me but since he's been alone he is more friendly. It could be age, but he has never really liked other rats very much to begin with.
 
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