SnufflePuff, I am curious why you think Science Diet is such a great food, OTHER than the fact it is a Hills product. I am a food rep for Nutro, so I talk to Science Diet reps all the time, and it's always bugged me that they will never talk about the ingredients. They always change the subject to their production process, or their scientific research, or their vet recommendations. But how about what is actually IN it? HOW do those particular ingredients make it the best food? (Other than being scientifically formulated, because all foods are scientifically formulated.) Have you ever read the ingredient list of a Science Diet formula? THAT is why people on here say it is bad. Because the quality of the ingredients are not that great. Sure, it's natural so it's better than Cat Chow, but what is in it that makes it the best?
Okay, sorry about the rant. This has been an ongoing question and I just can't seem to find an answer!
Anyways, KathyS, when looking for a food to feed your hedgie, I personally would say the number one thing you should try to look for is higher-quality ingredients, at a price you can afford, that is pretty easy for you to find. Do they need to eat better than we do? Do you need to buy the most expensive food? Of course not! But you want to read the ingredients, keeping in mind that it is listed by volume, so the first ingredient is the largest part of the food, and it goes down from there.
At the very least, check to make sure it is all natural (no BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, color dyes, artificial flavors), and has a meat or meat meal as the first (or second if it's a diet formula) ingredient. Also, rice is the most digestible grain, so if there are grains at the top, that is the one I like to see (almost all pet foods are going to have some sort of grain.) And since hedgehogs are prone to dry skin, Omega 6 is also nice, which will be any sort of oil (sunflower oil, fish oil), fish meal, or flaxseed. Higher fiber is important for hedgehogs, so try to look for good sources like real vegetable fiber, and avoid ones like "Soybean Mill Run".
And if you see corn, don't freak out. You don't want it way up on the list (like in the top 3 or 4 ingredients) mainly because it is just not very digestible. So, if it is one of the main ingredients, your hedgehog will actually need to eat a lot more of the food to get the nutrients that they need (like the protein). And with their little hedgehog tummies, this just isn't really possible since they can't eat that much. So, it's best to try to get them as much of the nutrients in as little amount of food as possible. That is why everyone always says that the higher quality, the better!
And many people feel by-products are what the animals would eat in the wild, so if it is down on the list (no higher than 4 or 5) then it might be okay, as long as there is that real meat as the first ingredient (which will be the main source of protein.) I personally avoid by-products because it is not specific and that scares me.
Okay, I'm done. Sorry I went off. Yes, I work for a pet food company so this is what I get paid to talk about. There are some great (expensive) high quality foods, but many will argue that they are "too" high quality and not really necessary. As long as you are sticking with all natural and try to get something easily digestible so your hedgehog can get more of what they need, then you're doing good!