Hedgehog with ‘balloon syndrome’ recovering after being ‘popped’

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A hedgehog in Scotland rolled into some trouble last week after she expanded to the size of a football due to a rare condition called “balloon syndrome.”

The strange ailment occurs when gas gets trapped under the animals’ skin, typically after they’ve suffered some kind of trauma, according to the Wildlife Aid Foundation.

“She was enormous,” Gaynor Christie, who works at Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Centre where she was taken, told Southwest News Service.

“You lifted the box and it felt like a normal weight hedgehog but when we opened the box she was enormous,” Christie continued. “She was about the size of a football.”

The hedgehog can be seen lying on its side, with its rounded belly full of gas and little arms and legs outstretched.


The hedgehog was diagnosed with the rare "balloon syndrome."
The hedgehog was diagnosed with the rare “balloon syndrome.”
Kennedy News and Media

She was spotted by an animal lover in a garden, who noticed she was in distress.
She was spotted by an animal lover in a garden, who noticed she was in distress.
Kennedy News and Media

Thankfully, the hedgehog — who has since lovingly been named “Balloon” — is now in recovery after being “popped” three times with a hypodermic needle and syringe at the rescue center.

The condition can turn fatal quickly if the animals don’t have medical intervention, as the hedgehogs can go into shock, according to SWNS.

Balloon was found last Wednesday in a garden after she was spotted stumbling around by a concerned animal lover, who brought her to the rescue center.

“We had never seen a hedgehog’s tummy bloated as much as that, it looked really uncomfortable,” Christie admitted. “It was lucky that somebody found her.”

She continued, “Hedgehogs are normally a lot smaller than the size of a football, she’s probably one of the biggest we’ve ever seen.”


"She was about the size of a football," Christie said.
“She was about the size of a football,” Christie said.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

The hedgehog was "popped" at the wild life center.
The hedgehog was “popped” at the wildlife center.
Kennedy News and Media

Experts believe that Balloon suffered from a crush injury — when there’s a lot of force put on one particular body part, per Penn Medicine — but explained that they couldn’t find a wound, so are chalking it up to a “trauma injury.”

Balloon was also given antibiotics and other methods of pain relief to help her heal and hopefully treat the infection.

“She looks an awful lot better than she did when she came in,” Christie said. “She’s on antibiotics and pain relief as well to make her feel more comfortable.”


Balloon will have to stay in the rescue center for a few more weeks.
Balloon will have to stay in the rescue center for a few more weeks.
Kennedy News and Media

However, Balloon will remain in the care of the rescue center for about two or three more weeks before being released back into the wild.

She will likely need another round of treatment, and they are planning to keep an eye out on her recovery.

“We’re going to wait and see how she does,” Christie explained. “If all goes well it could be just two or three weeks from now.”

But at least Balloon isn’t a hedgehog living in New Zealand — in 2021, the hedgehog population in the country was dubbed as a group of “killing machines” after their population soared.

The country plans to eradicate the animals entirely by 2050.

In other hedgehog news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert in 2020, warning people not to kiss their hedgehogs or bearded dragons after they were linked to salmonella outbreaks in over two dozen states.

There were no reported deaths at the time.

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