Total Eclipse: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Festival of Science, Music, and Celestial Wonder. August 19–21, 2017 in Eastern Oregon.

The Case of the Hedgehog With ‘Balloon Syndrome’

He’s better now.

A hedgehog—apparently lost, severely bloated, possibly close to death—was observed last week wandering the streets of Toll Bar, in northern England. Before we go further, we should note, in case anyone is worried, that this story has a happy ending.

The hedgehog was initially thought to be pregnant, but was walking with some distress and also, for some reason, had blood on its nose. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) then intervened, and found that the poor animal had a rare disease known as balloon syndrome, a condition that only affects hedgehogs, in which gas beneath the skin gathers and expands. It can be caused by a number of things, such as an underlying infection or a “traumatic event,” according to the Press Association.

“It’s the worst case of balloon syndrome I’ve seen,” an RSCPA said. “This poor chap was almost twice its natural size, literally blown up like a beach ball with incredibly taut skin.”

Since being found June 5, the hedgehog has had the gas released and is now looking considerably smaller—and healthier. Here’s a video in which the two-pound mammal, despite his travails, appears curious about the world around him:

The RSPCA says they’ll care for the little guy until he’s ready to return to the wild. Get better, formerly-beach-ball-sized hedgehog!