VANCOUVER -- Krysten Leigh was walking her dog in Langford when she spotted something that made her do a double-take.

"He was pulling at something and it got my attention and when I looked over there was a spider," Leigh said. "I definitely had to take a second look because it was huge and very creepy-looking."

The arachnid on the pavement in front of her was like nothing she'd ever seen before. She wondered if it was someone's pet. She also wondered if it was poisonous. Mostly, she knew she had to take a picture.

"It wasn't as big as a tarantula, but it definitely looked like a miniature version of one," Leigh said.

Experts say the spider she spotted is a Pacific folding trap-door spider. It's not a tarantula, but it is a "tarantuloid" - a related type of arachnid - according to Jaymie Chudiak, general manager of the Victoria Bug Zoo.

"It is the closest thing we have to a tarantula," Chudiak said. "They are incredibly beautiful, but also very large, so people who do see them go, 'Oh my gosh, what is that? It's enormous.' But they're actually extremely docile and timid."

Pacific folding trap-door spiders typically grow to between three and five centimetres in length, considerably smaller than tarantulas, but larger than most species commonly seen in B.C.

"They do have venom, but it's incredibly mild," Chudiak added.

Asked what she did after she took the photo, Leigh said she "ran away."

"I was terrified," she said. "I'm definitely not a spider person."

She shared the photo she had taken with her mother, and then with a pest control company, which was eventually able to confirm the spider was a native species and not an escaped pet.

Leigh then shared the photo on Facebook, where it generated much more attention than she expected. In the first 24 hours, her post was shared more than 200 times, she said.

Chudiak said Pacific folding trap-door spiders are "absolutely everywhere" on Vancouver Island, but people rarely see them because they spend most of their lives hidden away inside their burrows.