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Understanding the Primary Dangers of Minecraft: Mobs and Illness

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There are basically two types of negative health events in the game, Illnesses of various types, and direct damage taken from Mobs.  Both can kill you.


Illnesses of Various Types


Illness in the game is meant to include any stat-damaging action that is not associated with a mob -- so for example falling from a great height and taking damage can be thought of as illness in the form of injury -- you may have broken a leg mate!   Doing something incredibly stupid -- like trying to mine underwater or swimming in Lava pools without the aid of a Fire Resistance Potion also qualify under the heading of illnesses -- listed under the sub-category of Stupid Ways to Die, under the categories of Drowning and Burning to death.

Falling into a pool of this not only kills you, but destroys all of your kit and items as well!

The good news is that generally speaking -- as long as you do not actually die -- all that you need to do is eat food until your food bar is full, and you will then recover health over time.  Specifically in addition to health-restoring items such as Potions, the player's health is represented by the Health Bar (made up of Hearts) which are recovered over time as long as the Food Bar (represented by Meat Markers) is full. 

Basically if/when the player takes damage (loses some of the hearts from the Health Bar) if their Good Bar is already full, then hearts will be recovered on the Health Bar at a rate of 1/2 Heart at a time over time.  If the player's Food Bar is not full, the player must eat food in order to restore it to being completely full before the Health Bar will begin its timed recovery mode.  As mentioned above, there are also health items in the game that can be eaten to speed up that process -- those are covered elsewhere.

One form of illness that you can avoid through carefully managing your resources is food poisoning, which can occur when/if the player consumes certain types of raw meat, or consumes spoiled or tainted food or meat.  This sort of illness is easily avoided by planning ahead and maintaining a safe and ready supply of food.

Please bear in mind that if you allow your Food Bar to become fully depleted, you will then begin losing health from your Health Bar (the heart-bar) over time and from movement, and you CAN die if it goes all the way to naught.  So let's avoid that sort of avoidable death by being sure to maintain an adequate supply of ready food items that are safe to eat, and devising a sustainable and restartable food supply. 

Going too deep -- or trying to mine underwater -- makes this view the last you will see before the screen goes black and you die!

Food poisoning is contracted by eating raw meats -- and the impact that it has is just the opposite of what the player is hoping for when they eat food, as it has the effect of lowering the players health to one-half heart.  Subsequently all that it will take for the player to end up dead is a fall or other injury sufficient to remove that last half-heart, so you can see contracting food poisoning is not what one would consider a desired effect...

So the trick for dealing with illness in the game is to avoid it -- try not to do things that get you hurt, and of course, cook your bloody food...  Really.  Literally.  In other words if the food has blood in it you may need to cook it before you eat it...  You see?  Humor...  Yeah.


Direct Damage -- or "The Thing About Mobs. . ."


As you are just starting out chances are that your first encounters with Mobs in the game will range from funny to a complete disaster -- especially your first encounter with the hissing green beastie known as the Creeper and that turns out to be a walking hand grenade -- but more on that in a bit. 

The first thing we need to cover is how to keep your interaction with Mobs at a minimum until you are ready to deal with them.  This is a rather important matter, and so should be given some serious thought early on in your play, since an ounce of prevention is, as they say, worth a pound of cure.

So first let us discuss where Mobs come from: they spawn.  In the dark.  More accurately they spawn in dark areas, as the entire mechanism behind how the spawn is related to the light level in the place in which they spawn, with each type of mob having minimum or maximum light/darkness requirements to spawn.

What that means is that ANY dark area -- and in particular a dark area in, say, the mine you are digging -- can be a potential spawn point for a hostile mob.  But their spawning is not restricted to mines or dungeons, as they can and will spawn in the Overworld too.  In fact if your Home/Den/Stronghold contains areas of sufficient darkness they can spawn there as well, and wouldn't that be a nasty surprise?!

The easy solution to prevented unwanted and unexpected spawn is to be sure to light up your mine very well by spacing torches on the walls so that there ARE no dark areas!  That will solve the whole Mobs spawning where you are not expecting them to issue, but what about dark areas outside?  Yes, they can spawn there as well...  To put this into perspective for you, have you seen the movie "I Am Legend" staring Will Smith?

In that movie Will Smith (Fresh Prince, Bad Boys, Men in Black) plays the character of Dr. Robert Neville, who is a scientist who was unable to prevent the unchecked spread of a terrible man-made weaponized virus that quickly overwhelmed human society transforming it, save for the very tiny percentage of the population that was naturally immune to it, into mad raving flesh-eating cannibal zombies!

The similarities between Minecraft and I Am Legend are startling - sunlight damages the zombies, you are alone in the world, and he even has a Wolf (OK it is really a dog but still)...

Dr. Neville -- who was one of the tiny percentage of humans who is immune to the virus -- is the last human survivor in what is left of New York City -- and as far as he knows perhaps in the world.  While he tries to locate other survivors who, like him, are naturally immune to the virus, he works on a series of experiments using the mutant plague victims as his lab animals -- for what may very well be the final hope of humanity, since a cure would help restore the balance and, with any luck society as well as human survival as a species.

Living in a townhouse that is largely protected by light -- high intensity floodlights at night, and the sun during the day -- because the mutant flesh-eating zombie monsters cannot survive in or tolerate light -- his safety is basically a product of his ability to maintain electricity in order to ensure access to light when he most needs it.  Well, in a way that parallels the world of Minecraft, in that the monsters in this game are, for the most part, in the same boat as those in the movie in that they do not survive in bright light.  They require darkness to spawn, and some of them (mostly the undead) are actually destroyed by light.

That being the case, like the Doc, when you build your Den (or house) you will eventually want to turn it into a Stronghold -- which means building walls and ramparts so that you have, in theory, an outside area that is protected from mob spawn by lots of bright light so that you can do things like garden, craft, or chop wood in the night without having to worry about being attacked. 

The simple answer to how to do this is to light the area up very well, so that there are no dark spots in which Mobs can spawn, but even that is not fool-proof mates, since temporary darkness can occur when, for example, those trees you planted grow to the point that their branches and canopy blocks the carefully laid out light grid that you created...


The Importance of Situational Awareness


Nothing ruins your day like emerging from your house in the morning only to find a hissing green Creeper who was lurking just out of sight and who, when you opened the door and emerge, proceeds to whisper in your ear "Nice wallsssssss!" and then blows up part of your Stronghold because you failed to see that they were there and they got close enough to detonate!  Now instead of going off to do what you wanted to and planned to,  you end up having to spend time repairing the damage that they caused, and where is the fun in that I ask you?!

Obviously taking the time to properly light up the inside of your Stronghold area (the bastion yard) is where you should be starting, but that is clearly not enough when you consider that some Mobs, and in particular Creepers, are not destroyed by the sun when dawn arrives -- and besides that the walking torches that are Skeletons and Zombies can easily capture your attention so that you miss the lone Creeper who is hiding by that tree or among the Sugar Cane plants...

Adding plenty of windows increases Situational Awareness 

The simple solution to this is to remind you that before you leave your house each morning, you should be taking a good look out of the windows of your house/den to see if there are any threats in the area in addition to the crispy critters being burned to death by the sun...  Morning is not guaranteed to eliminate all of them of course, but there are steps that you can take to help to lower the possible negative impact of the Creeper that remains, and good situational awareness is the start of that.

After you have created the walls of your Stronghold and devised your light plan, you should build a large patio that spans the width of your home/den with your door in the center, and a buffer zone of four to six block tiles deep, and then wall that off with a shoulder-high wall of explosive-resistant material, topped with a layer or two of Glass Blocks.  Why?  Glad you asked that!

While Glass Blocks are NOT explosive-resistant, they do enjoy a different characteristic -- Creepers cannot see you through them.  So if you create a shoulder-high wall around your patio, then top that with Glass Blocks, you now have an area directly outside of your house that you can use to reconnoiter the outside area without the risk of a Creeper sneaking up on you or detonating close enough to your home to do damage to it (or you).

As long as the patio itself is very well-lit, they cannot and will not spawn on it, which means you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can safely open your front door each morning.  This allows you to take your time and recon the area.  If it turns out that there are in fact Creepers out in the bastion area, you can then retreat to the second floor of your home, exit via the door there, and safely snipe any Creepers form the balcony above, where they cannot get close enough to begin their detonation countdown.

An alternate system is for you to always exit in the morning via the second-floor (or higher) balcony and snipe any Creepers you spot below before you leave via the front door, which makes it unnecessary for you to construct the walled patio...

Bear in mind that Mobs in general -- including Creepers -- are an easy to handle threat if you understand them, and are well-versed in their tactics but you should also bear in mind that the mobs in the game -- and especially the hostile mobs -- are not stupid.  In fact they are quite clever, and if you start to feel like THEY are toying with YOU, well...

Some of the basic facts about Mobs that you will want to keep in mind as you adventure in the game include:

-- Mobs are aware of any players within a 16 block radius of them with the exception of Endermen, who can see up to 64 blocks away, and Ghast, which can see up to 100 blocks away.

-- Creepers are sneaky little bastards and their attacks on the player are calculated not just to damage them via their HP, but also to damage their pride...  Inside caves and mines Creepers will deliberately wait in ambush of the player by hiding in alcoves -- standing completely still to limit their noise -- and once the player passed the alcove, they will then sneak up behind them and blow up!

-- Most Mobs cannot see through Glass Blocks.

-- Creepers need to get close to you for their timer to start; when their timer starts the blink a lighter shade, which is your warning that an explosion is imminent.

-- It is possible to melee-kill Creepers if your attacks push them far enough away from you to halt their countdown -- OR -- you have enough space behind you so that you can constantly back up while fighting them.

-- Zombie and Skeleton (undead) Mobs who have burst into flames but are not yet dead in the morning sun can be killed by you for XP and item drops.

-- Taming a Wolf or six as both companions and a warrior pack is a good idea, but you should be aware that like their real-world counterpart, Wolves are not stupid.  While they will willingly help you battle the odd Zombie or Skeletal Warrior you happen upon, they will not attack a Creeper...  You see wild or tame, a Wold does not like being blown up anymore than you do!

-- A Spider encountered in the dark is hostile -- you can tell this because their eyes glow red when they are hostile, but do not glow red when they are passive -- and Spiders who are encountered in the light of day are always passive unless you attack them.

One of the best approaches that you can take to killing Mobs that spawn in the night is to construct a number of traps just outside your walls so that they fall into them and are thus easier to kill.  Bear in mind that it is especially important for you to construct several layers of explosive-resistant material at the base (foundation levels) of your walls as well as in the walls themselves so as to minimize the potential harm that an exploding Creeper or three might have.

If you go the moat route for your Stronghold, consider making it five or six blocks in depth so that you can stand above and pick-off any trapped Creepers without the risk of their timer engaging.  But at the same time you should have some sort of means to get in and out of your moat so that you can safely and easily access it to collect drops and XP -- and get out if you end up being attacked and pushed into it or you fall in by accident.  For more information on traps and trap strategies read the traps section of the guide.

-- It is not all bad news...

As you read the factoids and the information above you might be getting the idea that The Mobs of Minecraft are worthy even clever opponents -- and in many ways they are that -- but to be completely fair about this, they can also be dumb as a stump at times, and knowing their proclivity to behave stupidly under certain circumstances can be a major benefit for you.

The following information can be said to be The Dumb Side of Mobs in Minecraft and is worthy of a read:

-- Spider Stupidity 1.0:  When you are inside your den, home, or stronghold (actually pretty much any building now that we think on it) if a Spider detects you, their default basic strategy (call it instinct?) is to reach the same level that your character is on...  So if your character is on an upper level, they will climb the walls in order to gain access to the roof of the structure, since their preferred method of attack is to drop down upon you like the dreaded Australian Dropbear...

Because of this many players will build a protruding line of blocks along the outside edge of their top floor as this prevents Spiders from gaining access to the roof (while they can climb walls they cannot get past the protruding ledge of blocks).  The thing is there is an oddity in the game that will cause the Spider to jump down off of the wall if they end up climbing to a higher elevation than your character is at; it is speculated that when they detect that they are higher than you, their attack instinct kicks in causing them to head for the ground where they assume you will be, waiting to be killed.

Normally this is not an issue for the Spider since that is one of their usual tactics -- but the thing about this is that Spiders have a very poor sense of depth perception -- they are incapable of telling if they are too high to safely jump off of a wall or roof...  So if you character happens to be standing on the 8th floor of a multi-level building, that Spider is going to take falling damage -- and here is where the stupid factor comes into play: once they land on the ground, despite taking falling damage, they will sense that your character is still above them, climb the wall and do the same thing over again!

Assuming you are willing to stand there and allow the Spider to base jump until it dies, well, it will base jump until it dies.

-- Through the Glass:  Mobs cannot see you through a Glass Block even if they can detect you through them, which is why you may notice when a Creeper (or three) detect you inside your house and then follow you around the outside edge as you move from room to room or inside the open area.  They really cannot SEE you, but they can track you anyway...

It can be disconcerting to see a group of Creepers gathering just the other side of your window or even on your skylight -- especially when you consider that under normal circumstances they start their countdown and detonate when they get within two blocks of distance -- or is it closeness? -- I am always mixing the two up... 

The fact that they can DETECT you but they cannot SEE you (and thus never hiss and blow) through Glass Blocks should be giving you lots of interesting ideas about how to set up traps and/or a mechanism to aid you in farming Gunpowder drops -- we are just saying...

-- Wolves are Smart / Dumb (take your pick):  The type of wolf that is included in Minecraft is speculated to be Canis Lupus (The Gray Wolf) -- not to be confused with Canis Lupus Familiaris, which is the Latin name for pet dogs in their many and varied varieties (pet dogs are a subspecies of the Gray Wolf by the way) -- and of course the Gray Wolf is also related to Canis Latrans (Coyote), Canis Adustus (the Side-Striped Jackal), and a whole bunch of other members of the Canidae Caninae in the

Regnum Animaila (tell your mom you actually learn stuff by playing games mates), Gray Wolves also happen to be one of the largest members of the canine family.

Wolves live, travel and hunt in packs of 4-7, develop close relationships and strong social bonds, and are said to have a very complex communication system ranging from barks and whines to growls and howls -- they are widely thought to be a very smart animal, which makes the following bit of information all the more confusing:  after you tame them they get dumber.

Seriously -- you will notice that wild or tame, the Wolves of Minecraft enjoy swimming and playing in water, but after you tame them it seems that they have trouble distinguishing between Water and Lava!  That being the case, it is generally not considered a good idea to bring your pet Wolves with you when you mine or explore caverns where Lava pools will likely be happened upon...

In addition to immolating themselves, they will sometimes try to follow you down a ladder with predictable results considering that Wolves cannot climb up or down ladders...

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Comments for Understanding the Primary Dangers of Minecraft: Mobs and Illness

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6 comments, latest first.
Apr 4th 2015 Guest
One question,which mob cannot swim?
ID #537560
Dec 15th 2014 CMBF
Really? I have always been a little freaked by them, but then we have spiders in Australia that are instant deathl.;
ID #485317
Dec 2nd 2014 Guest
I love spiders
ID #479656
Jul 22nd 2013 Guest

ID #299530
Dec 27th 2012 Guest
Food poisoning will not decrease the health - poisoning from spiders do. Food poisoning mearly makes you hungry 3 times faster for 30 seconds.
ID #229828
May 27th 2012 Guest
This is very informative and yet really funny, thy very much for the tips

ID #146163
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