It’s recommended to have a good mix of different kibbles. A varied diet is the safest way to ensure the hedgies are getting all the nutrients they need. Providing a variety of food will help to prevent your hedgehog from becoming attached to only one food. You could have a serious problems with your hedgehog not eating if an animal is attached to one food and that food becomes unavailable or you run out.
Several different brands of hedgehog foods are available on the Internet and in pet stores. Some hedgehog foods are very good, some are only adequate as a treat and not a complete diet, and other foods are simply not good for your pet. Just because a food is labeled for a particular animal does not mean it is a quality food. No manufacturer is going to put on their label that their food is junk!! READ THE INGREDIENTS LIST.
The biggest disadvantage of using a dog food as a hedgehog food is that the kibble size tends to be WAY to big even using the small bite varieties. You will need to break the kibble into smaller pieces before serving.
The main difference between cat and dog foods is the absence of Taurine in dog foods. Taurine is necessary for cats but not dogs and it is still unknown whether it affects hedgehogs’ overall health. There’s a possibility that links Taurine deficiency to quill loss. Mix dog kibble with cat kibble to be on the safe side.
When looking for a food for your hedgehog you will want to carefully read the ingredient list for the following:
COMMERCIAL FOODS “SHOULD” CONTAIN:
** Superior sources of protein, meaning either whole, fresh meats or single-source meat meal (example, chicken meal rather then poultry meal).
** A whole-meal source as one of the first 2 ingredients (chicken or chicken meal for instance).
**Whole, unprocessed grains, vegetables and other foods. An unprocessed food has a great chance of having its nutrients and enzymes intact.
**Chicken, chicken meal, and lamb are the best protein sources for insectivores because they are the most easily digested.
**Pork and beef are cheaper sources of protein but not as easily digested.
**Foods that contain several protein sources tend to be more beneficial because they provide a wider variety of amino acids that are the building blocks of all cells.
**Appropriate protein and fat ratio. Different protein and fat levels are required during different times of the hedgehog’s growth and development. Nursing moms and growing babies need more protein (30-35%) than hedgehogs at a maintenance level. Maintenance level hedgies need 20-30% protein. A higher fat content is beneficial for animals that require more calories but too much fat can lead to obesity and its associated health problems.
**Appropriate kibble size and hardness. Hedgies have smaller mouths than cats and dogs. Bigger kibbles need to be broken into smaller pieces. Kibbles should be hard enough to provide abbrassion and crunch to clean off teeth but soft enough not to break off teeth. Tooth decay and gum diseases can result from a diet of pure soft food. Very hard foods can wear down or damage teeth and may be impossible for hedgehogs to eat that have missing or broken teeth.
COMMERCIAL FOODS SHOULD “NOT” CONTAIN:
**Meat by Products. These second-class products are not handled as carefully as whole meat and their nutritional content could be questionable.
**Fats or proteins named generically. For example, “animal fat” or “meat meal” (as opposed to the better quality “beef fat” or “chicken fat” or “lamb meal”. The generic term indicates that the ingredient is actually a mixed bag of ingredients, coming from any number of sources.
**Food fragments (brewer’s rice, corn gluten, etc.) This item is the least odious on the list. Most foods contain at least one fragment, as makers economize where it least hurts the food.
**Artificial Preservatives including BHA, BHT or Ethoxquin, which according to some homeopathic publications has caused everything from cancer to kidney disease, birth defects, liver disease and so on.
**Sweeteners including corn syrup, sucrose, and ammoniated glycyrrhizin, added to attract animals to unappealing food.
**Propylene Glycol. Toxic when consumed in large amounts, this is added to some “chewy” foods to keep them moist.
**Corn or corn by products as the main ingredient. Corn acts as filler and is not a good source of protein. Studies have linked artificial fillers and preservatives in pet foods to cancers, ear infections, respiratory infections, joint problems, and a myriad of other health and wellness problems.