It’s always inspiring to hear stories of veterinarians working hard to save animals’ lives. Animals come into their care for all sorts of reasons, and like any medical professional they need to be prepared for anything.
That was the case recently when vets got a visit from most unusual patient: a hedgehog who had been inflated like a balloon due to trapped gas.
Luckily, they saved the animal’s life by “deflating” him just in time.
According to SWNS, the hedgehog, now aptly named Bubbles, was discovered in November by a member of the public, who was no doubt shocked by the animal’s condition: the hedgehog was filled up like a balloon, to the size of a melon:
The bystander brought the poor animal to Henlow Veterinary Centre in Bedfordshire, England.
Bubbles’ size was due to a rare condition referred to as “balloon syndrome.” The condition is caused by a build up of gas under the skin, which is usually caused by a trauma-induced bacterial infection.
“The gas has no where to go so you end up with an inflated hog,” writes veterinary nurse Laura Bernal.
The condition is life-threatening for hedgehogs: without immediate treatment, they can go into shock, which is often fatal.
But it turns out the solution is what you might expect: vets essentially had to “pop” Bubbles to let the trapped gas out.
The veterinary team inserted bubbles with a needle and syringe. According to SWNS, they had to do this three times, because he kept inflating.
But eventually, they got the hedgehog back down to his normal size. “The difference in size is astounding,” Laura wrote.
Bubbles is deflated and back to his old size, but he still needed to be looked after. He was placed in Laura’s care: she took him to her home, where she runs a non-profit hedgehog rescue called The Little Hog Hospital.
Luckily, Bubbles has continued to make great strides in his recovery.
“He was very uncomfortable due to his skin being so tight so he was given pain relief and antibiotics to treat the infection,” Laura told SWNS. “Once the antibiotics started to work we saw a huge improvement by the next day and he was able to stay his usual size.”
“He is responding well to all his medication and is eating like a little pig so is doing very well. He is one lucky hog.”
She says that while Bubbles tested positive for lungworm and had to receive parasite treatment, they luckily didn’t find any other injuries.
Bubbles will stay in her care for the time being, but will be able to be released into the wild once he’s grown up a bit and the weather becomes milder.
While Bubbles’ case is extraordinary, he’s just one of the many hedgehogs that Laura has cared for from her home. She was motivated to start her non-profit home hospital from her love of hedgehogs: she says that while they are “iconic in British wildlife,” they are increasingly threatened by habitat loss and reduced green space.
“Hedgehogs have always had a special place in my heart as they are full of character, extremely cute, harmless but also so vulnerable,” Laura told SWNS.
We’re so glad Bubbles is safe, healthy and back to his old self. Thank you to Laura Bernal and all the vets who cared for this hedgehog!
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