Hedgehog must be deflated after diagnosis of balloon syndrome

One hedgehog had to be evacuated after it had swollen to the size of a football. The female had bloated to twice that size.

The hedgehog was so large that it was discovered by a passenger on a passing bus. The animal, discovered near Quedgeley, Gloucestershire, was taken to Wild Hogs Hedgehog Rescue, where it was diagnosed with ballooning syndrome.

This condition is unique to hedgehogs as they can curl up, creating a gap under their skin. Emily Harper, the manager, said: “The hedgehog was discovered in a field by a man on a bus. I deflated the hedgehog using a thick needle to release the trapped air.”

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“She was given painkillers and antibiotics and taken to our vet, Wood Veterinary Group. They did an x-ray to check for internal injuries and performed the deflation.

“She will remain in our care for at least a week and will receive antibiotics and painkillers. Balloon syndrome is unique to hedgehogs. They have a gap between their skin and the musculoskeletal structure of their body.

“When a wound occurs, infection can enter the gap. The outer skin heals and the infection remains trapped inside. This releases gases that bloat the hedgehog.

“It’s extremely painful and can be fatal if left untreated. The hedgehog was having trouble walking when she came in and his skin was tight. Sometimes ballooning syndrome can be caused by a ruptured lung or emphysema, but these were ruled out on the x-ray.”

Donations for the hedgehog’s care and treatment can be made at or