Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Balloon syndrome hedgehog is 'popped'

Hedgehog Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption Balloon syndrome is caused by gas collecting underneath the skin, often as the result of a traumatic event or infection

A hedgehog that had "blown up like a beach ball" is said to be doing well after a vet "popped" him with a needle.

The male hedgehog, which had inflated to twice its size, was found wandering around in circles by a member of the public in Toll Bar, Doncaster.

The unnamed animal was diagnosed with the rare "balloon syndrome", caused by gas collecting under the skin.

He was taken to a RSPCA centre in Cheshire where a needle was inserted to vent the trapped air.

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Bev Panto, head vet at the RSPCA's Stapeley Grange centre, said it was a very unusual syndrome.

'Mostly air'

"In my career I have seen three or four of these cases and they are very strange every time and quite shocking," she said.

"When you first see them they appear to be very big hedgehogs but when you pick them up they feel so light because they are mostly air."

Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption The RSPCA's Stapeley Grange centre said the hedgehog was now "doing well"

She said the condition only occurs in hedgehogs and was due to their ability to curl up, meaning they have a lot of space under the skin.

In some circumstances air can get trapped under the skin due to an injury or trauma.

"They literally blow up like a balloon," she said.

"The first thing to do is to just pop them. To pop a needle in and drain all that air out."

Ms Panto said the hedgehog was eating well and staff were hopeful of a full recovery.

"It is certainly not out of the woods yet so it's fingers crossed," she added.

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