The first time you see one a level of excitement hits you as if you actually have just spotted a unicorn or perhaps the first really good sighting anyone has ever had of Big Foot.  But no, it’s just a black squirrel.

Black squirrels are not as rare as you might think and once you catch a glimpse of one in your neighborhood you are likely to spot it many times throughout the year.  Outside of the color difference, the black squirrel has the same makeup as the grey squirrel except for the excessive pigmentation that causes the color difference according to Mass Audubon.

According to Mass Audubon, the black squirrel descended from a pair of black-phase gray squirrels who were transported from Michigan to Stanley Park in Westfield in 1948.  The mating squirrels lead to the population of black squirrels in the western parts of Massachusetts including the Berkshires and are believed to be related to the original Westfield squirrels.

In addition to the black and grey squirrel, you may also encounter a white squirrel.  According to Mass Audubon, they simply have a reduced amount of dark pigment.  In order to be a true albino, the squirrel would also have pink eyes according to Mass Audubon.

Some believe that because the black coat allows a squirrel to absorb more heat from the sun in the winter allowing for a high survival rate.  Most black squirrels are found in western Mass and other northern regions of the country.  The survival rate of the black squirrel is also believed to be higher because drivers will go to greater lengths to avoid hitting one in a roadway.

RANKED: Here are the most popular national parks

To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

25 True Crime Locations: What Do They Look Like Today?

Below, find out where 25 of the most infamous crimes in history took place — and what the locations are used for today. (If they've been left standing.)