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Watch the 6 Most Gripping Animal Battles of 2017

We’ve compiled a list of the year’s top skirmishes—some of which didn’t turn out like we expected.

Fight Between Gecko and Snake Has a Surprising End

In nature, it's all about survival of the fittest. Big-guy predators go after little-guy prey in the mostly predictable cycle we call the circle of life.

But sometimes, nature surprises us. That's why we've put together a round-up of animal-animal encounters that didn't exactly go as planned.

Gecko vs. Snake

Two reptiles locked in an epic battle. Only one can survive, but the victor is unclear.

In this video, a tokay gecko and a golden tree snake are tangled up over a grate in Thailand. The gecko grips the snake's head in its mouth, and the serpent wraps its body around the crawler. The snake works its way out of the gecko's grasp, and that's where things take a wicked-fast turn.

In an explosive backflip, the gecko gives the snake the slip and scurries away. The snake tries to pursue its would-be prey, but trails off as the gecko scampers on. If you blinked, you might have missed it.

The four-legged survivor lives to fight another day.

Rooster vs. Cobra

See How This Rooster Fought Off a Cobra

You do not want to come between a rooster and its flock, as this cobra is about to learn.

In the video, a rooster defends its turf against an attacking snake. With bobbing movements and sharp juts of its beak, the rooster snips as the venomous snake writhes in front of it. At some points, the bird grasps the snake in its beak and darts away; at others, the rooster drops the snake and continues to peck at it. The duel ends when the rooster gobbles the snake up, swallowing it whole.

Birds have been known to eat snakes, and bigger cobras will go after chicken coops to get at newly lain eggs. A bite from the venomous cobra in this video could have killed 20 people, but the legless slitherer was no match for the brave bird.

Wasp vs. Tarantula

Wasp Vs. Tarantula, Explained By a Nine-Year-Old

Epic battles can happen on a miniscule level, too. Enter wasp-versus-tarantula, as told by a nine-year-old boy.

Young Cash Perry plays the Morgan Freeman-esque narrator in the epic arachnid-insect stand-off in this video. Cash chronicles the fight as a parasitic tarantula hawk wasp attempts to sting a tarantula in Arizona's Sonoran Desert. The wasp stings the spider several times and, once the prey has been paralyzed, will lay an egg inside the tarantula. After the seed hatches, it'll set off a chain of events to turn the crawler into a type of arachnid zombie.

When the wasp egg hatches, the larva will eat the spider from the inside out, avoiding all vital organs at first to keep the crawler alive. The excruciating process can take several gruesome weeks.

Kangaroo Rat vs. Snake

Watch a Kangaroo Rat Jump-Kick a Snake to Escape

Snakes are slithery predators that can swallow animals more than half their size. But some spry little kangaroo rats were not so keen on becoming these snakes' next meals.

The pesky rats seem to make an impressive match for the desert creepers. Using a night-vision camera, scientists captured the tiny jumpers evading strikes from their would-be predators in a matter of milliseconds. Because showing a snake who's boss isn't awesome enough, the researchers caught the rats kicking sand into their attackers' faces, and whapping them on the head for good measure.

Wildebeest vs. Crocodile vs. Hippo

See Hippos Save a Wildebeest From Crocodile’s Jaws

Hippos are the tanks of the animal world. The massive "river horses" are not the kind of mammals you want to mess with.

In this video, a crocodile learns that firsthand. It starts out with what looks like your average predator-prey relationship with a meat-eating croc about to make a meal out of a harmless wildebeest. For eight minutes, the wildebeest struggles to free itself from its attacker's powerful jaws. Just when it seems the mammal has exhausted itself and is ready to give up, in come a pair of hippos, who drive the croc off.

Hippos are territorial animals, and the duo probably weren't thinking about helping the hooved creature, experts say. Rather, they were probably just trying to get the croc off their turf.

But this worked out in favor of the wildebeest. Limping away with a broken leg, the wild creature was able to live another day.

Snail vs. Flatworm

Snail Battles for Survival Against Flatworm

This invertebrate brawl is a nail biter.

In the video, a snail dukes it out with a carnivorous flatworm. The predator twirls its victim around in a final, cruel rendition of swing dancing, tossing it back and forth in a dizzying, deliberate devour. Once the flatworm has immobilized the snail, it uses chemicals to dissolve and digest it.

The snail did not survive this dance with death.