This "Balloon Hedgehog" Swelled To The Size Of A Beach Ball


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer


Zeppelin the hedgehog. Colin Seddon

A poor hedgehog that swelled up to the size of a balloon has been found. A member of the public spotted it in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, on Sunday July 23, but it's now in good hands.

The animal, which has been named Zepplin by the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), is thought to have been clipped by a car. This punctured one of its lungs, trapping air under its skin and causing the odd appearance.


The condition only affects hedgehogs that have the ability to curl up, which means they have a lot of space under their skin. They can swell up to almost twice their normal size, with their skin becoming extremely taut. To remove the air, they are popped with a needle.

Zepplin is currently being cared for at the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross. Fortunately, he’s now been deflated by a vet puncturing him with a needle. X-ray images show just how strange the creature looked, but thankfully he seems to be doing a lot better now.

“Zepplin is suffering from ‘balloon syndrome,’” center manager Colin Seddon said in a statement. “Our Animal Rescue Officer Louise Hume got a bit of a shock when she went to pick him up. He’s certainly one of the largest hedgehogs we’ve taken into our care.”

The vets will now keep a close eye on him, to make sure that infection does not set in. Once he’s fully recovered, he’ll then be released back into the wild.

An X-ray of Zeppelin. Colin Seddon

As strange as it might seem, this is not the only “balloon hedgehog” to be found recently. Last month, an animal with a similar condition was found in Doncaster, UK, and taken to the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

"In my career I have seen three or four of these cases and they are very strange every time and quite shocking," Bev Panto, head vet at the RSPCA's Stapeley Grange centre, said of the previous hedgehog. "When you first see them they appear to be very big hedgehogs but when you pick them up they feel so light because they are mostly air."

Back in 2013, there was yet another hedgehog, found in Cornwall, UK, that had ballooned in size. The hedgehogs need to be “popped” before their skin ruptures. Thankfully, all of these mentioned here seem to be doing okay now. Phew.


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