Hedgehog with ‘balloon syndrome’ rescued after swelling to twice its normal size

Animal was 'blown up like a beach ball' 

Rachael Revesz
Sunday 11 June 2017 17:31 BST
The inflated male animal had to be put under general anaesthetic
The inflated male animal had to be put under general anaesthetic (RSPCA)

A hedgehog suffering from “balloon syndrome” was rescued after it had swollen to twice its normal size.

The animal was diagnosed after a member of the public saw it wandering round in circles in Toll Bar, Doncaster.

RSPCA inspector Sandra Dransfield said it was clear the animal was suffering from the syndrome, which is caused by gas collecting under the skin.

“It’s the worst case of balloon syndrome I’ve seen,” she told BBC News.

“This poor chap was almost twice its natural size, literally blown up like a beach ball with incredibly taut skin.

“I took the stricken animal straight to Peak Vets in Sheffield, where he was X-rayed and they released some of the air from under his skin.

”The vet then started him on a course of antibiotics and pain relief. We found him in the nick of time, and I really do hope he pulls through.

X-ray shows skin inflated to twice normal size
X-ray shows skin inflated to twice normal size (RSPCA)

The animal is being treated at an RSPCA centre in the Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, Cheshire.

If the animal had continued to swell, its skin could have ruptured.

Pressure from the gas on internal organs could also eventually cause it to suffocate or starve to death.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society said there was no single cause for the syndrome.

It can be triggered by an injury or infection, which releases gas underneath the skin. Treatment involves puncturing the skin’s underlying cavity to release the gas, and a course of medication.

The male hedgehog in Cheshire will be thoroughly examined under general anaesthetic. It will be cared for until it is ready to return to the wild.

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