Let's talk kibble size!
Almost 13 years ago, when I brought my very first hedgehog home, I was a little obsessed with trying to give him the best of everything. I fed Inky a mix of cat foods, and (nutrition aside) I spent a lot of time sifting through different brands and formulas trying to find the best quality with the smallest kibbles. Back then, that was brands like Castor and Pollux, and then Fromm, and of course the ever-popular fatty kitten food, Royal Canin Babycat. So many of us in the community tried crushing or food-processing kibble in order to give smaller pieces to our hedgies. I actually ended up cutting the cat food kibble into pieces with sharp scissors every single night for him, so that there wasn't a bunch of dust that he'd refuse to eat. Inky ate lots and lots of bugs, live and dried, too of course.
Back then I wished that there was a great quality food with tiny kibbles, but it just didn't exist. There were a couple hedgehog foods with small kibbles, but the ingredients were awful and most hedgies refused to eat them.
This picture shows three variations of our High Calorie formula. The first time we made it, the pieces were a little larger and more dense (harder) than what we'd get in a perfect world, but it was already such a huge improvement over the cat food kibble size most hedgies were eating. The next time around we got a smaller kibble (adorable honestly), but still quite dense - and we ran into challenges in the production lab because half of the kibbles fell through the drying belt because they were so small. And then third time was the charm, because with the expertise of the production team (and a new dryer belt) at the lab, we were able to get just the right size and density. With the hedgies we've done feeding trials with, they have much preferred the smaller, less dense kibbles.
We will probably see slight variation in kibble size and density batch-to-batch, because we're producing in such small volumes compared to the tons per hour that cat and dog food is produced at. I still see this is a huge win for hedgies, because if the alternate is feeding cat food, we are avoiding a lot of needless oral and dental wear and tear.
We know that premature dental wear, tooth loss, gingival hyperplasia, and oral cancer are extremely common in older hedgies. Though we don't have a legitimate study to link any of these to specific diets (other genetic and environmental factors), we can assume that something is not quite right with the long standing status quo of feeding cat food as a staple diet. As we move toward feeding more whole insects, and smaller-kibble-size staple diets, I hope that we start to see fewer cases of oral and dental disease in our community.