Rescuers deflate football-sized swollen hedgehog

<span>Bounce the hedgehog pre-deflation. Balloon syndrome is unique to hedgehogs and can be fatal. </span><span>Photograph: Wild Hogs Hedgehog Rescue/SWNS</span>
Bounce the hedgehog pre-deflation. Balloon syndrome is unique to hedgehogs and can be fatal. Photograph: Wild Hogs Hedgehog Rescue/SWNS

A hedgehog that had swollen to the size of a football – so big that it was spotted in a field by a passenger on a passing bus – has been deflated by rescuers.

The female hedgehog, which has been named Bounce, had blown up to twice its normal size when it was seen in Gloucestershire.

It was taken to the charity Wild Hogs Hedgehog Rescue and diagnosed with balloon syndrome, where air gets into a gap between the skin and the creature’s muscular-skeletal structure.

The charity’s manager, Emily Harper, said: “The hedgehog was spotted by a man on the bus in a field. I deflated the hedgehog using a wide-gauge needle to release the trapped air. She was given pain relief and antibiotics and taken to our vet.

“They carried out an X-ray to check for any internal injuries and completed the deflation. She will remain in our care on antibiotics and pain relief for at least a week.”

She added: “Balloon syndrome is unique to hedgehogs. They have a gap between the skin and the muscular-skeletal structure of their body. If a wound occurs then infection can get into the gap. The outside skin heals over and the infection is trapped inside, releasing gases which cause the hedgehog to balloon.

“This is extremely painful and is fatal if not treated. The hedgehog was struggling to walk when she came in and her skin was stretched tightly. Sometimes balloon syndrome can be caused by punctured lung or emphysema but these were ruled out on the X-ray.”

Wild Hogs Hedgehog Rescue has been rescuing hedgehogs for 14 years. At the moment, as well as looking after Bounce, it is advising people strimming verges to look out for hedgehogs.

The charity hopes Bounce will make a full recovery and be returned to the wild.