Sick hedgehog balloons to twice its size

Balloon syndrome hedgehog (RSPCA)
Its rescuer said it's the worst case of the condition she's ever seen. Photo credit: RSPCA

A hedgehog in the UK has been rescued after it was found "blown up like a beach ball".

It was spotted by a concerned member of the public in Doncaster, who noticed the little animal was twice its size and thought it could be pregnant.

But when the RSPCA arrived they discovered it had balloon syndrome - a rare condition where gas collects under the hedgehog's skin and it inflates.

RSPCA inspector Sandra Dransfield told local media it was the worst case of the condition she'd ever seen.

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

The little hedgehog was taken straight to a vet's clinic and they managed to release some of the trapped air after an x-ray.

Healthy hedgehog (Getty)
A healthy hedgehog. Photo credit: Getty / file

It's since been put on a course of antibiotics and pain relief, with further surgery to come to release more of the air.

The hedgehog will eventually be returned to the wild, Ms Dransfield said.

Balloon syndrome is often the result of an infection or an injury which releases gas into the cavity under the hedgehog's skin.