In early June, a member of the public spotted a large hedgehog going round in circles in Toll Bar, Doncaster, dragging its leg and with a bloody nose.
Due to its size, they thought the prickly mammal may be pregnant.
However, upon arrival at the scene RSPCA inspector Sandra Dransfield confirmed it was a male hedgehog suffering from ‘Balloon Syndrome’.
“It’s the worst case of Balloon Syndrome I’ve seen,” said Dransfield. “This poor chap was almost twice his natural size, literally blown up like a beach ball with incredibly taut skin.”
Balloon Syndrome, formally known as subcutaneous emphysema, is a rare condition where gas collects under the skin and causes it to inflate.
It is usually caused by a traumatic event and leads to infection, although occasionally it is the result of a deep underlying infection.
The sickly hedgehog was taken to Stapely Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich where the gas was released under general anaesthetic.
He is now being cared for by the staff at the centre, who have nicknamed him Monty after the Montgolfier brothers who invented the hot air balloon.
“He is doing well, he is putting on weight and eating well,” said Lee Stewart, Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre manager.
“It is rare that we get hedgehogs with Balloon Syndrome, particularly this severe, so it has been interesting to watch his progress.”
Staff hope Monty will return to the wild in two to three weeks’ time.
Main image: The hedgehog was suffering from a rare condition known as ‘Balloon Syndrome’. © RSPCA