A hedgehog which swelled to the size of a beach ball after being injured has been returned back to the wild.
Zepplin, who was named after a type of German airship by his carers, grew to a circumference of 30″ (76cm) – around the size of an average 16-year-old’s waist.
He was found by a member of the public and taken to the Scottish SPCA, who said he was one of the largest hedgehogs they had ever cared for.
Colin Seddon, national wildlife rescue centre manager said: “Zepplin suffered from ‘balloon syndrome’. It’s likely that he was clipped by a car, puncturing a lung and causing air to become trapped under his skin.”
The injured hedgehog spent 253 days at a rescue centre in Fishcross, Clackmannanshire, where he received special treatment to help the excess air escape from his body.
Mr Sneddon said: “Zepplin had a difficult time recovering. The hole we made in his skin kept healing faster than his punctured lung. We had to put plastic in with his spines to ensure the excess air could escape as the poor guy kept re-inflating.”
Zepplin was released in Perthshire over the Easter weekend along with several other rescue hedgehogs who were ready to fend for themselves in their natural environment.
Britain’s hedgehog population has halved since 2000, mainly due to habitat loss and new roads.
Britons have been asked to leave out cat food, have wild areas in their gardens and look out for hedgehogs in distress – such as being out during the day – to help protect the spiny mammals from decline.