An inflated hedgehog discovered in Bude had to undergo a life-saving procedure after vets feared he could burst.
The prickly animal, which had swollen to twice its usual size, had to be deflated by staff at Locke and Preston Vets.
Veterinary surgeon Adam Revitt said: "The hedgehog was so swollen and very inflated. It couldn't curl up into a ball and couldn't move.”
At first the team couldn't understand how the spherical creature could be so large and yet remain a normal weight until an x-ray revealed a giant air pocket trapped under the animal’s skin.
Mr Revitt diagnosed the animal with balloon syndrome, a rare condition which he had never encountered before, and used a standard syringe to puncture its ballooning belly and let the air gently escape.
The 26-year-old said: "I took an X-ray and then a needle and syringe to drain the air. It took around five minutes to drain all the air out fully.”
Fortunately the rudimentary operation was a complete success and the 500g hedgehog has now reverted back to its normal size.
"The hedgehog looked instantly brighter,” Mr Revitt said.
“He was trying to move around and he was tucking into his food.”
Balloon syndrome occurs when bacteria gets into a wound and gives off gas that becomes trapped under the skin, Mr Revitt explained.
He added: "This is the first case I had ever seen. It is uncommon. There are very few things published about it.
"Without the treatment it couldn’t breathe and would probably have died."
The animal was given pain relief and antibiotics and is now being cared for by Sue Gear, a receptionist at the surgery who also runs her own animal shelter.
She said: "The hedgehog is with me and is doing absolutely fine. He is putting on weight.
“I want to release him back where he came from in the next week or so."