During the Easter season, you can’t walk out your door without seeing decorative bunny rabbits, pastel eggs and lambs that are supposed to symbolize the resurrection of Christ (even though Peeps probably have an interminable shelf life, which really doesn’t seem to jive with the whole new-life theme).

Those cute little chicks are particularly hard to miss — especially when they’re blood red or sky blue. Some people inject dye into chicken eggs and when they hatch … presto — multicolored little birdies. One farm in Alaska has been doing just that for a number of years now. According to an article from the BBC:

The dye, which the farm insists does not contain chemicals, is injected into ordinary chicken eggs a few weeks before Easter. The baby chicks are not hurt, but they do provide a psychedelic spectacle when they hatch. As the chicks mature, they shed their colors and grow to be normal-looking chickens.

Unfortunately, when someone handles a chick, which is especially tempting if it’s dyed purple, blue or red, he or she can also pick up salmonella germs, which can result in stomach cramps, diarrhea and fever.

Dr. Nicholas Gaffga, a CDC medical epidemiologist, said in an article in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, that dyed chicks are more dangerous than plain yellow chicks. "Many states prohibit the sale of dyed chicks. This is to prevent them from being sold to children as pets," he said.

Although these dyed chicks may be a treat to see, they probably shouldn’t be picked up or played with. They are a unique reminder, however, that even though it may be cold and dreary, new life is just around the corner.

Story by Susan Cosier. This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in April 2007.

Copyright Environ Press 2007