Hedgehog found 'blown up like a beachball' in South Yorkshire

The stricken hedgehog before he was treated (RSPCA)
The stricken hedgehog before he was treated (RSPCA)
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This was the sorry state of a hedgehog which had to be rescued after it was found 'blown up like a beachball' in South Yorkshire.

The stricken critter had inflated to twice its size due to a rare condition and was found going round in circles in Doncaster.

An x-ray shows the extent of the swelling (RSPCA)

An x-ray shows the extent of the swelling (RSPCA)

The RSPCA, which came to its aid, said the creature was suffering from what is known as 'balloon syndrome' - when gas collects under the skin causing it to swell up dramatically.

A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the large male hedgehog in distress in Toll Bar, Doncaster, on Monday.

The animal charity said the woman, who found it dragging its back leg and with blood on its nose, had initially assumed it was pregnant due to its size.

RSPCA inspector Sandra Dransfield, who came to the rescue said it was the worst case of balloon system she had ever seen.

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

"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."

The 1kg hedgehog has since been transferred to the RSPCA's Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, Cheshire, where he will be put under a general anaesthetic to be thoroughly examined and more air released.

He will continue to be treated at the centre for this unusual condition and cared for until he is ready to be returned to the wild.

Balloon syndrome - or subcutaneous emphysema as it is formally known - is usually caused by a traumatic event like being hit by a car, but it can be result of a deep underlying infection.

The space below a hedgehog's skin on its back is quite large to allow the hedgehog to roll up.

* If you see an animal you think needs help, call the RSPCA's emergency line on 0300 123 9999.

* To donate to the charity, visit www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (text costs £3 plus the price of one standard network rate message).