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THE HOW-TO GEEK GUIDE TO MINECRAFT / HOW-TO GEEK SCHOOL

How-To Geek

Lesson 5: Meet the Mobs of Minecraft

Minecraft

There are creatures big and small, friendly and dangerous, and combinations thereof, sprinkled all throughout the Minecraft world. Knowing what you’re up against goes a long way towards staying alive.

We’ve studied the biomes and structures of Minecraft, now it’s time to turn our attention towards the mobs that populate the world. Although Minecraft can seem empty at times, it’s rare to be anywhere on a map where you can’t find creatures of some sort. Even when you’re in the middle of a seemingly barren desert, a few swings of your pickax will usually reveal caverns under the sand filled with creatures.

Minecraft mobs afford you the ability to interact (such as with villagers and taming animals), to eat (such as with the passive food-proving mobs), and the ability to fight (you’ll find more than a few creatures big and small that are rather unfriendly).

In Minecraft lingo, these creatures belong to “mobs” and can be divided broadly into Passive, Neutral, Utility, and Aggressive mobs.

If in the course of play you get the distinct feeling that the balance of friendly-to-hostile creatures is tipped strongly in favor of the hostile creatures, you’re not imagining it. The rate of spawning for aggressive mobs is measured in fractions of a second whereas the spawn cycle for passive mobs (such as animals) is nearly half a minute long.

Every 1/20th of a second the game asks “Should I spawn an aggressive mob near the player?” whereas it only asks “Should I spawn a passive mob near the player?” only once every 20 seconds (and only during daylight on the surface). Those odds mean you’ll run into far more aggressive mobs than passive mobs.

Passive Mobs

Passive mobs are composed of creatures that will never, under any circumstances, attack the player. Some passive mobs can be bred to create more of them, e.g. pigs can be bred to effectively farm them. Aside from the bats, passive mobs always spawn at the highest illuminated elevation available for the chunk they are spawning onto.

This means even a well illuminated cave under a plains biome will never have a cow randomly spawn into it as the cow would always spawn on the surface grassland above.

Pigs

Pigs are typically found roaming in small herds of 3-4 members and spawn in grassy/forested areas. When killed they yield 1-3 raw pork chops (but if killed by fire, they drop cooked pork chops).

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In addition to hunting them for food, players can also breed them (by feeding them carrots) to produce more pigs and can place a saddle on them in order to ride them like a small and slow horse. A small and slow horse you need to lead with a carrot and stick if you want to get anywhere, that is.

Sheep

Sheep spawn in groups of 2-8 animals in grassy/forested area and provide the player with wool (useful for crafting items like a bed). Killing a sheep will yield one block of wool, shearing the sheep will leave the sheep alive and yield 1-3 blocks of wool.

Although wool is handy, it can be frustrating if the biome you’re in is sheep heavy (as they produce nothing the player can eat).

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Sheep can be bred by feeding them wheat. Roughly 80 percent of all naturally spawned sheep in the game are white, but sheep can spawn as black, brown, gray, light gray and, very rarely, pink.

In addition to the basic colors, you can dye sheep other colors like yellow, blue, and green, and the dyed sheep will remain that color (producing as much of the colored wool was you wish to shear from them).

Chickens

Chickens produce more than one kind of drop. When you kill a chicken it will drop 0-2 feathers and one serving of raw chicken (cooked chicken if killed with fire). Left alive, they will drop a chicken egg every 5-10 minutes. Eggs can be harvested and to spawn more chickens or used in recipes.

Spawning chickens is rather fun: you throw the collected eggs like baseballs and each broken egg has a chance to spawn a chick.

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Chickens may be bred using seeds (such as wheat, melon, or pumpkin seeds). Chickens spawn in grassy/forested areas.

Cows

Like the other farm-type animals, cows spawn in grassy/forested areas in groups of 2-8. Like chickens, cows are a fairly versatile creature as they supply both food (1-3 raw beef when killed, steaks if killed by fire), as well as milk if milked using a bucket and 0-2 leather units upon death.

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They can be bred using wheat and will happily follow you if you hold wheat in your hand. Walk slowly enough and you can easily get the entire herd to follow you.

Mooshrooms

Mooshrooms are like mutant cows, they use the same body model as the cow but only spawn in herds of 2-8 mooshrooms, in the rare Mushroom biome. Just like the cows, they produce leather and beef if killed (steak if killed with fire), and they can be milked with a bucket.

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In addition to the standard cow-like item drops however, the mooshrooms can also be sheared (they’ll drop five red mushrooms) can they can be “milked” using a bowl and they’ll produce mushroom stew. Thanks to the wide variety of drops available from the mooshroom, it’s the most versatile creature in the game. Mooshrooms can be bred with wheat.

Horses

Horses (and less frequently donkeys), spawn in the plains/savannah biomes. If killed they drop 0-2 leather units and in rare cases, if they have any additional equipment, a saddle, horse armor, or chest. Given that the majority of horses only yield a small amount of leather, it’s more practical to tame and saddle them to use them as transportation.

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To tame a wild horse, simply click on it to ride it. The horse will throw you off. Repeat the process until the horse remains calm. Alternatively, you can instantly tame a horse with a saddle. Regardless of how you tame the horse, a saddle is required to direct the horse’s movement once tamed.

Horses can be bred using golden apples or carrots; a horse bred with a donkey yields a mule which, like the donkey, can be outfitted with a chest to help transport materials. Given the relative expense of creating golden apples and carrots (they’re essentially the base fruit/vegetable coated in gold) you have to be really set on breeding horses to undertake it, but hey, nobody said running a horse ranch would be cheap.

Ocelots

Ocelots are wild cats found in the Jungle biome. When wild, all ocelots look the same—tan color with brown spots.

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Players may tame wild ocelots however, using raw fish. After feeding the wild ocelot raw fish it will turn into a domestic cat and assume one of the three color patterns reserved for cats. Ocelots/cats are immune to fall damage and are excellent at warding away Creepers (an aggressive mob creature we’ll meet in a moment).

Unless commanded to sit (by right-clicking on them) cats will wander around and follow the player. Minecraft cats, much like real world cats, enjoy hopping up on beds, chests, and other elevated surfaces.

Bats

Bats spawn naturally in caves and other large enclosed dark spaces. Despite your first reaction to smack them away, unlike in most videos games the bats are completely harmless. Not only that but they’re relatively useless as they have no drops, cannot be tamed, and provide no experience when killed.

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They are useful however, as they tend to be rather noisy and are a good indicator of a nearby cavern. When digging mineshafts it pays to listen for the squeak of bats as it typically indicates a nearby cave system. Bats are the only flying passive mob.

Squids

Squids are found in any biome that has water. Despite the name, the squid body model is actually closer in shape to that of an octopus.

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Squids are completely passive and, when killed, will drop 1-3 ink sacs. These sacs may be collected to use as dyes and in the creation of more advanced craftable items like the book and quill.

Villagers

Villagers are the only human (or perhaps we should say human-like) characters in the game and spawn in villages. Each villager has a profession (indicated by their robe/apron color); brown-robed villagers are farmers, white-robed are librarians, purple-robed are priests, black-aproned villagers are blacksmiths, and white-robed are butchers.

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You can right-click on villagers to trade with them; their profession has a strong influence on what they will trade with you. Villagers always trade items for emeralds or emeralds for items, e.g. they want twenty raw chickens for five emeralds.

Although oftentimes the trade strongly favors the villager, we’d still recommend checking trades when you’re near a village as it’s possible to collect higher level/hard-to-obtain items fairly easily using the trade system. We frequently run into farmers who will happily trade emeralds in exchange for stacks of wheat (we presume they’re independently wealthy and simply want more farmhands as we always trade them wheat right out of their own fields).

Although villagers reproduce if the population of the village drops (you’ll occasionally see little miniature child-size villagers running around) they have no gender-distinguishing features and, save for their clothing color, all look identical.

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Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 06/13/14