The diet you choose to feed your hedgehog is EXTREMELY important! A sub-par diet can lead to an early death, health issues like fatty liver disease, kidney damage, or even improper calcium absorption causing weak and frail bones (metabolic bone disease). Their main diet should consist of a high quality cat food with more than one protein source. Most commercially made diets specifically formulated for hedgehogs are, to put it nicely, complete crap. A high quality cat kibble is more nutritionally balanced. So, why exactly is cat kibble better for hedgehogs? Well, take a look at the ingredients. If you compare a bag of "hedgehog food" to a bag of cat kibble you will find that the ingredients are similar. But the ingredients in commercially made hedeghog food are usually very poor quality ingredients with tons of fillers like corn, wheat, soy, beet pulp, peas, etc. All of these ingredients are  things that hedgehogs can not digest well, or get no nutritional value from. There is even a food called Mazuri Insectivore that is recommended by a lot of vets, that has ground aspen in the ingredients. That's right, ground up wood shavings! And not to mention hedgehogs are opportunistic omnivores, they are not strictly insectivores. They have a very simple digestive tract, and can not digest some things as well some other animals can.  Commercially made hedgehog foods are also usually not correctly balanced with the correct amount of protein and fat that a hedgehog should have in their diet!

Okay, so you do need to follow some guidelines when feeding cat kibble to your hedgehog! Note that dog kibbles can be used as well but it is hard to find dog kibbles that are small enough for hedgehogs.  The cat/dog kibble you decide to feed should contain about 14-16% fat (note that more active hedgehogs can have slightly higher fat contents in their food)  and should be between 30-35% protein and no more than 36% protein (TOO much protein from plants and other sources can damage kidneys and liver over time)! Most higher protein foods are not appropriate for hedgehogs because they have too much protein from plant or other sources and not enough meat protein. The only higher protein foods (foods over 40% protein) I have found to be appropriate for hedgehogs are Farmina, Orijen, Go! Fit + Free,  and Young Again. So if you are feeding one of these higher protein foods, you do not need to worry too much about too high of a protein content...  Hedgehogs being fed a higher protein biologically appropriate diet will typically eat less because they are getting fuller on a smaller portion since the food is richer in both protein and fat. A growing hedgie (under 4 months old) should definitely be free fed in my opinion. An adult hedgehog will typically eat 1-2 tablespoons per night. Some may need 2-4 tablespoons, depending on their activity level and their overall size and weight.

I recommend to NOT feed any kibbles containing peas, pea protein,  pea fiber, or other pea ingredients in the first FIVE ingredients. I also would HIGHLY recommend staying away from corn, lentils, chickpeas, and wheat if they are listed in the first FIVE ingredients as well.  I also recommend sticking to grain free foods. But be careful because a lot of grain free foods have a ton of peas, lentils, or chickpeas in them...

Pea, corn, lentil, chickpeas, and wheat  ingredients can  increase the phosphorous levels in your hedgehog's diet. Excess amounts or unbalanced amounts of phosphorous in your hedgehog's diet can inhibit calcium absorption in their bones, as well as cause kidney damage over time. Both peas and corn are very common "fillers" in pet foods and have VERY little, if any, nutritional value. I also highly recommend staying away from lentils, chickpeas, and wheat, as those also have very high phosphorous levels (even higher than peas and corn) and are becoming a more common "filler" as well. Lentils and chickpeas are not as common as peas and corn but they are just as bad. Hedgehogs also simply do not digest plant matter very well, so this is also why I recommend staying away from those ingredients if they are listed in the first five ingredients. Most foods will claim to have balance calcium and phosphorous ratios, but still contain too much phosphorous. If you don't see the calcium phosphorous ratios listed on the bag of food you can contact the company and ask them. An ideal calcium phosphorous ratio is 2:1. A lot of  foods only have about 1:1. NOT all foods are created equally!!! Some are better than others. Remember that when picking your food.

ALL of my hedgehogs are currently eating: Go! Fit + Free grain-free chicken, turkey & duck recipe cat food which is 48% protein, and 18% fat, PetGuard Premium Cat & Kitten cat food which is 32% protein and 15% fat, Fromm GOLD adult cat food which is 32% protein and 18% fat, FirstMate chicken meal with blueberries cat food which is 36% protein and 16% fat,  FirstMate Small Bites dog food Australian Lamb Meal which is 24% protein and 13% fat, Wellness Natural Hairball Control cat food which is 36% protein and 16% fat, Wishbone Roost cat food which is 32% protein and 15% fat, Instinct ULTIMATE protein chicken cat food which is 47% protein and 17% fat, and Spike's ULTRA PLUS hedgehog food which is 32% protein and 12% fat.

​My mix ratio is as follows:  ONE PART of each food. 

With this ratio the overall average protein of my mix comes to about  35% and an average fat of  15.5%. The protein in this mix is coming from meat and not other protein sources, so it is a more balanced and biologically appropriate food for your hedgehog. And most hedgehogs do well with the slightly higher fat content. Most people recommend 12-15% fat, but mine do perfect on a slightly higher fat content. If you ever get an overweight or less active lazy hedgehog Fromm GOLD mature cat is a good lower fat  food with only 10% fat... But most hedgehogs are NOT lazy and run miles on their wheels every night!

When you bring your hedgehog home, it will go home with a small baggie of food  unless you have already bought the food we use & recommend. Which of coarse we highly recommend that you buy your food ahead of time  and keep  them on a mix of what we feed. I recommend mixing at least 2 different brands.  We also have larger sized bags of our food mix available for purchase (for $17) when you come pick up.

Please read over this great article written by our friends at Muddy Creek Farms Hedgehogs on "biologically appropriate" higher protein hedgehog diet:

The foods I feed here at Fairhaven Hedgehogs contain NO peas, NO corn, NO lentils, and NO chickpeas. I encourage all of my owners to ask questions about the diet we feed our hedgehogs here.
Fairhaven Hedgehogs - Hedgehog breeder near Chicago Illinois