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Minecraft Basics

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Critters and Creatures

One of the most important parts of Minecraft is the mobs. From taking down exploding creepers to riding horses across the plains, mobs are a huge part of the game.

Types of Mobs

Mob is short for “mobile entity,” meaning creatures that can move around the game. Each mob in Minecraft has specific characteristics. Some spawn in specific biomes or areas, or only at night or in a dark place, for instance.

Friendly mobs like cows, sheep, and horses are sometimes called critters. We use them for our farms and even keep some as pets. Other mobs, like endermen and creepers, we call monsters or hostile mobs. A few mobs are considered neutral. They won’t hurt you unless you attack them, or even hit them accidentally. Then they become hostile mobs and will attack. Wolves are a great example of a mob that can go from neutral to friendly (if you tame them) or to hostile (if you hit them).

Villagers spawn only in villages, and you can trade items or emeralds with them for other items. They are susceptible to zombies, and they can become hostile zombie villagers when attacked.

Mob Spawning

Spawning is the word used to describe what happens when mobs pop into existence in the game. Friendly mobs can spawn at any time of day or night, but most hostile mobs spawn only at night or in places with low light. Some mobs have special spawning rules; when you kill a zombie, more will spawn immediately in the area, for example.

Light an area to stop mobs from spawning. Torches or lamps prevent the monsters from showing up. When daylight comes, most hostile mobs will catch fire and burn up, though they are still hostile and will attack even while they’re on fire. Spiders stick around even during the day, but they attack only at night or in the dark.

Not only do mobs spawn randomly, but there are mob spawners in the game, often in dungeons and abandoned mineshafts; they cause a specific type of mob to spawn. These can be deactivated by placing torches on or beside the spawner, or they can be broken. Spawners can be used to make grinders, a place where mob spawns are controlled so that players can kill many in a safe manner in order to get experience points in a relatively short time (known as grinding).

Mob Drops

When mobs are killed, they leave behind items: meat, leather, or wool in the case of friendly mobs, and spider webs, rotten flesh, or weapons in the case of hostile monsters. These are known as mob drops, and each mob has specific drops. Many drop two or three different items, though not at the same time.

All mobs can be killed, but some are harder to kill than others. Use a sword or a bow and arrow for hunting or self-defense. Iron and diamond make the strongest swords, and enchanted weapons are even more effective, such as using a sword with a Looting enchantment, which will cause the mob to drop more items. When killed, mobs also leave behind green orbs, which are experience points that you can collect and are needed for enchantments.

Taming Mobs

Friendly mobs are very helpful in the game. Raising them in farms means you can have an easy supply of chicken, beef, pork, or wool. Most mobs are passive—you can lead them with food or on a lead and you can breed them, but that is the extent of interactions with them.

When you feed fish to ocelots or bones to wolves, you can tame them, turning them into pet cats and dogs. Sometimes this takes patience and a few tries, but once tamed the animals will follow you.

Horses can also be trained and ridden. You tame a horse by riding it. It might kick you off a few times, but keep trying—eventually it will show hearts and will be tamed. Unlike cats and dogs, horses aren’t connected to one player after being tamed—others can ride them too.

Most of the friendly mobs can be bred to make babies by feeding two of them a certain item, such as wheat or carrots. The two animals will touch each other, and when they part there will be a baby between them; the player gets experience points. This is a good way to raise animals to farm.

Friendly Mobs

You will find friendly mobs in various biomes—most farm animals are found in plains, forests, taiga, and mountainous areas. If you want to put them in a pen or barn to farm them, they can be led with a lead or will follow food.



Drops: Leather; raw beef; milk (when touched with an empty bucket; doesn’t kill the cow)

Breeding: Wheat

Cows spawn in plains and other grassy areas. They are very versatile and great to have in a farm. You can cook the beef they drop (or eat it raw, but you won’t get as many hunger bars filled), and you can use the leather for making armor, books, and item frames.



Drops: Leather; raw beef; milk (when touched with an empty bucket; doesn’t kill the mooshroom); mushroom stew (when tapped with a wooden bowl; doesn’t harm the creature); mushrooms when sheared, although this turns them into a cow

Breeding: Wheat

Mooshrooms are hard to find, spawning only on the rare Mooshroom Island biome. They are even more versatile than cows, as they also provide stew.



Drops: Wool, 1 block when killed, 1–3 when sheared, which grows back; mutton (version 1.8 and higher)

Breeding: Wheat

Sheep are useful as a source of wool and, as of version 1.8, as a source of food in the form of raw mutton. They are found in grassy areas such as plains and forests.

If you shear a sheep, it will drop up to three blocks of wool, which will grow back when they eat grass. They spawn in white, brown, black, gray, light gray, and occasionally pink, but they can be dyed any of the 16 colors by clicking them with a dye (the dye is then used up). See the section “Dye” for more information.



Drops: Raw pork

Breed: Carrots

Pigs, found in grassy areas, are a source of pork but otherwise aren’t very useful. They can be ridden by placing a saddle on them and then guiding them with a carrot on a stick, which you make by adding a carrot to a fishing rod on a crafting bench.

Pigs can be hit by lightning, turning them into zombie pigmen, although this is a rare occurrence.



Drops: Eggs; raw chicken and feathers when killed

Breeding: Seeds. You can also hatch chicks by throwing eggs, although it can take many eggs to hatch a single chick.

Chickens are versatile farm animals. They lay eggs and drop raw chicken and feathers when they are killed, and you can use their eggs to make cakes and pies and their feathers to craft arrows and quill pens.



Drops: Hide; meat; rabbit’s foot (rare)

Breeding: Carrots; golden carrots; dandelions

New as of version 1.8, rabbits come in six colors. They appear in almost all the biomes, and are, for the most part, a passive mob. A rabbit’s foot can be used in potions.

Every so often, the very rare Killer Bunny will spawn. It is not shy like its brethren, and will attack players and cause a fair amount of damage. It will also attack wolves and pet dogs, so be careful!

Horses, Donkeys, and Mules


Drops: Leather, though horses are not typically bred for drops

Breeding: Golden carrots; golden apples (craft by surrounding a carrot or apple with gold nuggets in a crafting bench). You can breed two horses, two donkeys, or a horse and a donkey, which will produce a mule (mules cannot be bred).

Horses, donkeys, and mules spawn on the plains. Horses appear in many colors and patterns, which are combined to a total of 35 different versions. They each have specific characteristics in terms of jumping height and speed. They can be ridden, but only if you have a saddle, which cannot be crafted. You must find a saddle in dungeons and temple chests or by trading with villagers. You can also find iron, gold, and diamond horse armor; diamond horse armor cannot be crafted—you must find it.

You can ride donkeys and mules, and they will also carry a chest, something a horse cannot do. If you use a lead, you can ride a horse and pull a donkey carrying a chest behind you.

To tame a horse, you need to ride it (right-click to mount; Shift-click to dismount). This can take a few tries because you will likely be thrown and will need to remount. When you see floating hearts around the horse and it has calmed, it is tamed. Now you can ride and breed your horse.

Horses can eat many foods, including sugar, apples, carrots, bread, wheat, and hay. Unlike other mobs, they have inventory slots for their armor and saddle, and their own health meter.



Drops: Ink sacs

Breeding: Cannot be bred

Squid spawn in bodies of water. They provide ink sacs, which are used as a dye source and for writing books, making them valuable. They have no other purpose.



Drops: None

Breeding: Raw fish

Ocelots are shy wild cats that spawn only in jungles. They don’t like people, so it can take a bit of time and patience and a large supply of raw fish to tame them. Once tamed they turn into tabby, Siamese, or black and white tuxedo cats, which will follow you and teleport to be with you.

You can make your tamed cats stay safe by right-clicking them, which will seat them until you release them; this will keep from walking into fire, lava, or cactus and dying. On the other hand, since creepers avoid cats, it’s not a bad idea to have some around when you’re working at night or in dark spaces.

Cats are mischievous and like to sit on your furniture and sometimes run through your crops (kittens especially will do this). This can be frustrating if they’re on your chests, preventing you from opening them, but you can lure them away with fish.



Drops: None

Breeding: Cannot be bred

Bats spawn in caves, and while they are cute, they have nothing to offer. They don’t drop anything, but they won’t attack either.



Drops: None

Breeding: Villagers breed on their own, as long as they have enough buildings with doors

NPC villagers (sometimes called testificates) appear in villages. You can trade with them for goods. Villagers wear clothes that identify their job, such as priest, farmer, and librarian. Each villager starts out with one item they will trade, and when you make a trade, a new item is added to the options. Some trades may not seem fair, but you won’t be able to open other trade options without making the exchange.

Villagers are favorite targets of zombies, and can become zombie villagers if they are attacked. They hide in their houses at night, and need doors so that they can seek safety and protect themselves.

Neutral Mobs

There are a few mobs that are friendly until they’ve been attacked, but which then turn fiercely hostile. Use care around these neutral mobs.



Drops: None

Breeding: Meat (puppies from tamed dogs will be born tame)

Wolves spawn primarily in the taiga (snowy forest) and occasionally in forests, usually in packs. They attack sheep and rabbits, but will remain neutral unless they are hit, in which case they become hostile mobs and will fiercely attack, eyes glowing red.

You can tame a wolf, creating a dog, by feeding it bones until its hearts appear and a collar appears around its neck (collars are red, but can be dyed by right-clicking with dye in your hand).

Dogs are similar to cats, in that they will follow you unless you make them sit by right-clicking them. They will protect you from monsters, and are handy to travel with, though they do get too close to lava and fire sometimes. Still, they make good companions, at home and while adventuring.



Drops: Ender pearls

Endermen are mobs that come from the End, but they can also spawn in the Overworld. They are not hostile unless you look them directly in the face, at which point they will attack. They teleport away from you and then back, making fighting a challenge. They are powerful and fierce and can teleport behind you when attacking, so be careful.

Unlike most hostile mobs, endermen aren’t harmed by sunlight, but water (like rain) damages them. You can wear a pumpkin on your head and be safe to look at them, but your vision will be restricted if you do.

Ender pearls, dropped by endermen, are needed to craft Eyes of Ender to complete the End portal (you can also use an Eye of Ender to find the stronghold by throwing it in the air and following it). Otherwise, they can be used for swift transport, as you’ll be teleported to the spot the ender pearl lands when thrown.

Although endermen are peaceful (unless you look at them), they can be frustrating because they like to pick up and move blocks, even ones that are part of your build.

Zombie pigmen


Drops: Rotten flesh, golden ingots, golden bars, and golden swords

Zombie pigmen spawn in the Nether, though they can cross through nether portals, and they are created when lightning strikes a pig, though this is rare.

Zombie pigmen are peaceful unless they are hit, but even one accidental bump will set them to attack—and they will call in their friends. They are ferocious fighters and will continue to fight you even if you die and respawn. They are happy to arm themselves in your gear as well, adding insult to injury. There are also baby zombie pigmen, which are faster and fiercer than their grown-up counterparts.

Hostile Mobs

Hostile mobs, or monsters, are the ones that you need to watch for (unless you play with your game set to peaceful, when they are harmless). Hostile mobs spawn only at night or in low light, and most catch fire when the sun comes up. Their drops can be useful—skeleton bones can be turned into bonemeal, used to help plants grow, and zombies and skeletons both drop armor and weapons.

Zombies, baby zombies, and zombie villagers


Drops: Raw flesh, and occasionally carrots, potatoes, iron bars, a piece of armor, shovels, or swords

Zombies spawn at night or in dark places. During the day, they will catch fire if they are in the sun, but they might be lurking in shady areas, such as under trees. If they attack you while on fire, you’ll end up burning too, so be careful.

They are generally slow-moving (except for their babies) and are fairly easy to defeat if you are prepared. But if you don’t have a good weapon or armor, they can still kill you. And even if you manage to kill one, it will summon other zombies to spawn in the area.

Zombies often wear armor, sometimes armor with minor enchantments, and some may carry a shovel or sword, making them a little harder to fight. On the bright side, they may also drop some of their weapons or gear when they die.

Baby zombies are a smaller, scarier version. They can fit into one-block openings, are super speedy, and can appear in daylight.

Zombie villagers are villagers that a zombie has attacked, so they still look like villagers—green, zombified ones. They can be turned back into villagers once you are able to make potions, but it is quite a process.



Drops: Bones, arrows, a bow, and armor

Skeletons in many ways are very similar to zombies; they spawn in the dark and burn in daylight, and are often wearing armor. Unlike zombies, they are able to attack from a distance with a bow and arrow, and they can shoot fast, knocking you back. For this reason, it is helpful to use a bow yourself.

Spiders, cave spiders, and spider jockeys


Drops: String and spider eyes

Spiders come in several varieties. The most common are large. Very occasionally they are ridden by skeleton jockeys, making them more dangerous at a distance. Spiders are faster than other mobs and can climb and jump, and they can fit through openings one block high and two blocks wide.

Cave spiders are even smaller and fit through small spaces. Even worse, they’re venomous and their bite will make you sick (drinking milk from a pail will help heal you). They’re found only in dungeons and abandoned mineshafts, where they come from spawners (surrounded by cobwebs), but they are vicious foes (a bucket of lava is a good weapon for destroying their nest and spawner).



Drops: Gunpowder; if killed by a skeleton, a music disc

Creepers, the hissing, walking bushes that explode, have become one of the symbols of the game, as well as a source of frustration to anyone who has ever built on a survival map. Creepers attack by moving in close, hissing, and then exploding, destroying many blocks in the area when they do.

It is especially frustrating to have part of your house, your redstone wiring, or some other important work destroyed, so it is important to keep the area well lit. A few cats can help keep them away. It is possible, if you’re alert, to catch them before they explode and at the very least lead them away, if not slay them outright.



Drops: Slime balls

Bouncing green blocks that come in a variety of sizes, slimes spawn in swamps at night and sometimes in deep caves. They aren’t hard to fight, because they move slowly, but once you hit one it will divide into two slimes, and those two will each divide, and so on until you find yourself surrounded by small slimes, which can’t hurt you and are easy enough to defeat.

Each small slime drops a slime ball. Slime balls are needed to craft sticky pistons, leads, and fire charges.



Drops: None

Silverfish are small critters that hide in strongholds and the Extreme Hills biome. They are in blocks that look just like regular blocks—until you break them and silverfish appear. If you attack a silverfish, it will call others. They can start to do some damage as their numbers increase, to both you and the area. They will break blocks too (potentially releasing even more silverfish). They can’t climb, so standing on a block and pouring lava is a quick way to deal with them.



Drops: None

A newly introduced mob with the 1.8 update, endermites occasionally spawn instead of an enderman or when you throw an ender pearl. They are small purple bugs that emit particles, attack, and do more damage than silverfish, but they are easily defeated.



Drops: Bottles, glowstone dust, redstone, gunpowder, spider eyes, sugar, and sticks (except for sticks, all are potion ingredients)

Witches look like villagers garbed in witch gear. They can spawn anywhere at night and don’t burn in the sun. They are quiet, can sneak up on you, and attack by throwing potions from a distance. They are also able to use potions to help themselves; if they are on fire or in lava they will drink a fire resist potion, for instance, and they are quick to heal themselves. Your best bet is to get some distance and use a bow and arrow, or just stay clear.



Drops: Fish, prismarine crystal, prismarine shard

Guardians are a new mob, introduced with the 1.8 update. The first hostile ocean mob in the game, they are swift and fierce hunters usually found in and around ocean monuments. They can attack with spikes that they can extend and pull in (though the damage is minimal), but they also use a far more powerful beam of light to attack from a distance. They need to “charge” this beam before they can fire and will take a short period of time to recover before they can shoot again. They are formidable foes.

Guardians don’t die when they are on land, but they will flop around and head for the closest body of water. If they are in shallow water, you can use a fishing rod to pull them to land and attack them there, which is far easier than fighting them in water.

Nether Mobs

Some mobs spawn only in the Nether. These mobs drop items that you can’t get in the Overworld, such as wither skulls (needed to summon a wither) and blaze rods (used as fuel and needed in some recipes).

Wither skeletons


Drops: Bones, coal, stone swords, and wither skulls

Wither skeletons are found in nether fortresses and are more challenging to fight than their Overworld cousins, as they can cause the wither effect, which weakens you considerably for 10 seconds after being hit.

Every so often, a wither skeleton will drop its skull, which you will need in order to call the wither (see the “Bosses” section).

Wither skeletons often spawn near blaze spawners, leaving you open to a double attack. If you have a bow, you can fight from a distance, possibly from the shelter of the fortress, but you may knock them into the lava below the fortress, which means you won’t be able to collect drops. They are best not faced up close unless you have good gear.



Drops: Blaze rods (an alternative fuel for furnaces and an ingredient in potions)

Blaze are spinning, flying mobs that hover near their spawner in nether fortresses. They are creatures made of and armed with fire, and can be a challenge because they shoot fire at you from a distance. They are vulnerable to water, which can’t be used in the Nether—unless you bring it in snowball form. Snowballs make a good distance weapon, though you’re best off ensuring you also have fire resist enchants on your armor, or a heat-protecting potion on hand.



Drops: Ghast tears and gunpowder

A large, floating, tentacled mob that will shoot fireballs at you. Because they float out of sword range, a bow is your best weapon, though you can lure them to the ground to attack with a sword too. Just be careful on the uneven, lava-covered terrain to not fall to your death or trip into a pool of lava while dodging fireballs! Ghast tears are a rare potion ingredient, making fighting ghasts worthwhile.

Magma cubes


Drops: Magma cream

Magma cubes are very similar to slimes from the Overworld. They stretch like springs when they bounce and drop magma cream, needed for heat-resist potions. They will divide into smaller cubes as they are attacked, and the smallest have the possibility of dropping magma cream.

Player-Created Mobs

There are a couple of mobs that you can create as well; they can be used for defense and company.

Snow golems


Drops: Snowballs

Snow golems look like pumpkin-headed snowmen, and they leave a trail of snow when they move. They are easily crafted by stacking two blocks of snow and then putting a pumpkin on top (not on a crafting bench; you need to build the snowman). While they will throw snowballs at hostile mobs, this won’t do much to slow them down; they’re more useful for harvesting snow and snowballs or to create a snowy landscape.

Iron golems


Drops: Iron ingots and roses

Also craftable, iron golems are far more powerful than snow golems. While they occasionally spawn around NPC villages, you can also make them. Iron golems are not made on a crafting bench but rather built with four blocks of iron (two stacked and one on each side of the upper block, like a “T”) and a pumpkin head.

Iron golems protect villagers before players, and won’t leave the area if there are villagers to defend. They have a fierce attack, swinging their long arms and flinging enemies away. If you damage a villager, even if you created the golem, it will turn on you as well. Iron golems will sometimes offer a rose to a villager.


Three larger, more powerful mobs, known as bosses, exist: Elder Guardians are considered mini-bosses, harder to fight than regular mobs; Withers can be summoned after collecting three wither skeleton heads and are a tougher foe than Elder Guardians; and the final, ultimate boss is the Ender Dragon, which spawns in the End.

Elder Guardian


Drops: Fish, prismarine crystal, prismarine shard, wet sponge

New to the game and considered a mini-boss, Elder Guardians are a larger, more dangerous version of guardians and are found inside ocean monuments.

They give a mining fatigue effect to all players within 50 blocks, which will slow you down considerably if you are trying to mine for treasure within the ocean monument. Like guardians, they use a beam to attack, as well as having spikes, but they are far more powerful and will even attack players in boats. They are incredibly hard to fight, and you will need your best gear, as well as water potions or enchants on your armor. Again, as with guardians, it is possible to draw them to dry land with a fishing rod, where you can attack more easily, but they will immediately try to get back into the water.



Drops: Nether star

A Wither is a strong boss that must be summoned using a soul sand cross and three wither skeleton skulls. You need to place the sand and skulls in a specific pattern and order (the last block placed must be a skull) for a Wither to appear.

A three-headed flying creature, the Wither shoots exploding skulls from all three of its heads. It also blasts the wither effect, which weakens all players hit by it. Some of the skulls will also damage nearby blocks (reducing places you might find to hide), and if a player is directly hit by a skull, the Wither will regain some health points.

Fighting a Wither is a big challenge, one best done with several players if you are on a multiplayer server. If you’re on your own, try to summon it in a contained space with places to hide, have plenty of good gear and health potions, and take your time.

The Wither drops a Nether star, which is needed to light a beacon, a special beam of light that extends to the sky and provides a special effect (such as haste, which makes you mine faster) to all the players in an area.

Ender dragon


Drops: Dragon egg

The Ender Dragon is the ultimate boss in Minecraft. Only found in the End, which is also populated by endermen, the Ender Dragon is a huge monster that flies in to attack players and can do damage with its head, wings, and body.

The Ender Dragon has a health bar so that you can track the damage you do. You’ll also note that it regains health from the crystals on obsidian towers scattered about the End. It’s a good plan to destroy the crystals so that the dragon can’t heal as you’re fighting it. The dragon can also explode blocks as it passes, so be careful of falling debris when you fight. You can use a bow and arrow or wait for it to swoop low (this is more risky). Its head is the most vulnerable place for players to strike.

When you defeat the Ender Dragon, you will get a dragon egg and lots of experience points, and the game credits will roll. This is, of course, not the end of the game, as there is no end point in Minecraft, so you’ll be able to return to your world and continue your adventures wealthier and with more experience.

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We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020