Wither Skeleton

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[edit]Wither Skeleton
Wither Skeleton.png
Health points

20 (Heart.svg × 10)

Attack strength

Easy: 4 (Withered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svg)
Normal: 7 (Withered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Half Heart.svg)
Hard: 10 (Withered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svg)


Nether Fortresses at light level 7 or less

First appearance

1.4.2 (12w36a)

Common drops
Rare drops
Natural equipment


Network ID


Savegame ID


Wither Skeletons are dangerous hostile mobs that spawn in Nether fortresses, and one of the few mobs that can sprint. Wither skeletons are the Nether equivalent of skeletons. Wither skeletons are three blocks tall, use stone swords and, like other Nether mobs, are immune to fire. When attacked by a wither skeleton, the player is inflicted with the Wither effect for 10 seconds, which darkens the health bar and gradually damages the player over time. When killed, wither skeletons can drop bones and coal, and have a rarer chance to drop their stone sword and a 2.5% (1/40th) chance to drop their skull. Wither skeletons can also pick up items, weapons, tools, and armor, similar to other undead mobs.


Size comparison of a wither skeleton and a player

Wither skeletons are three blocks tall, and have dark gray bones. They appear to have long streaks of black marks on their face. Their stone swords are bigger than normal swords, since the wither skeleton itself is taller.


Wither skeletons will only spawn near Nether fortress in light levels of 7 or less. Skeleton spawn eggs are able to spawn wither skeletons instead of regular skeletons 80% of the time in the Nether. Similarly, when a spider is spawned in the Nether (by the player, monster spawner, etc.), it has a 0.8% chance of spawning with a wither skeleton or a Wither Jockey.

Wither Skeletons are now just over 2.5 blocks high as of 1.8, and require 3 vertical blocks of space to spawn.


Wither skeletons are tough to fight due to their high damage (7 (Withered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Half Heart.svg) on normal) and their ability to move as fast as you do while walking. Their fast movement usually yields them at least one hit on the player each encounter. Because you will often have to fight them while fighting blazes, it is often difficult to avoid being hit by one mob or the other. Their biggest weakness is that they cannot pass through a two block high passage because of their height, much like endermen.

If you attack and move backwards at the same time you should not have any trouble avoiding damage provided you have some room to maneuver. If you have your back to a wall, spam attacking should be enough to kill a single wither skeleton without taking damage. If you have your back to a wall and are facing more than one wither skeleton, it is strongly advised that you move to a position where you have room to maneuver as the wither skeletons move slightly faster than zombies and so more easily overwhelm you. Sniping with a bow is also effective although it is not recommended at under 10 blocks away (without a Punch enchantment) as wither skeletons move surprisingly fast. If you find yourself in a position where a wither skeleton is a one shot, use a diamond sword or axe with high level Smite/Sharpness and ideally, Looting enchantments.

If you find yourself facing a Blaze at the same time the best course of action is to move into a place inaccessible for the Blaze -such as a corridor- and then proceed in taking the above steps to kill the Wither Skeleton. If this is not possible, it is suggested that the player run out of range of the Blaze and turn to face the Wither Skeleton. It is also strongly advised that inexperienced players do not face both mobs at the same time as this often leads to death, but for more experienced players willing to face both you should either; deal with the Blaze first by charging at it with a sword (do not use a bow, as you will be exposed to attack) and then turning and facing the Wither Skeleton, or (more recommended) putting the Wither skeleton between yourself and the Blaze so as to use its body as a shield against the Blaze's fireball attack, and then charging the blaze once it is dead.

You can also build partial walls in a nether fortress that fall down from the ceiling and leave a walkway two blocks high. Wither skeletons can't move through two block high spaces so building such structures limits their mobility, and will allow you to damage them with impunity.

If a wither skeleton is able to acquire a bow, it will use it to shoot at you. Any arrows it shoots will be on fire, and will cause you to catch fire, regardless of the bow's enchantments. If a Wither Skeleton picks up a sword enchanted with Fire Aspect, it becomes a considerable threat as the combination of the fire damage and the Wither effect can quickly prove fatal, especially if the sword is made of iron or diamond.

Fighting with Wither Skeletons on exposed fortress walls is good for getting rid of them with minimal effort (particularly with a sword that has Knockback). This comes at the cost of losing the drops, however, and players need to be wary of Ghasts as well.

Another viable tactic is more defensive than offensive. Place "bars" at every intersection (and occasionally in long corridors, if desired) that are tall enough for the player to pass under, but not Wither Skeletons. This works well to prevent ambush, but one must still be aware of their surroundings, especially if a Blaze is nearby.

Be warned that Wither Skeleton attacks carry knockback, and it is entirely possible for them to knock you clean out of a Nether Fortress, especially if you time a jump badly. This may lead to death by fall or death by lava.

Remember fire and lava have no effects on nether mobs.



Official release
1.4.2 12w36a Added wither skeletons.
12w38b Wither skeletons spawn more frequently.
1.4.4 Wither skeletons can sprint towards the player.
1.8 14w04a As a result of a bug, wither skulls will drop 100% of the time, making Withers very easy to make.
14w04b Fixed the bug above.
14w30a Drops skull when killed by a charged creeper.


  • A regular skeleton will spawn in a Nether fortress instead of a wither skeleton 20% of the time, it's unknown if it's a feature or a bug.
  • Wither Skeletons wield stone swords, yet there is no natural stone in the Nether.
  • Wither skeletons, as with other mobs, will sometimes wear pumpkins on Halloween.
  • If a wither skeleton is wielding a bow, it will use it like an ordinary skeleton, but the arrows it shoots will always be set on fire, regardless of enchants.
  • Wither skeletons can be afflicted with the Wither effect.
  • Wither skeleton skulls appear on the Xbox 360 Version, although Wither skeletons themselves do not.
  • Wither Skeletons have smaller mouths than normal Skeletons.
  • /summon Skeleton ~ ~ ~ {SkeletonType:1} spawns a Wither skeleton.
  • /setblock ~ ~ ~ mob_spawner 0 replace {EntityId:Skeleton,SpawnData:{SkeletonType:1}} sets a witherskeleton spawner
  • Wither Skeletons have the same ID as normal skeletons, and therefore attempt to hide under trees in daytime in the overworld, regardless of the fact they cannot burn. They also set on fire in the daytime but immediately get put out, like zombie pigmen.
  • The Wither Skeleton is one of only five mobs that give a debuff to the player; the other four being the Wither, the Cave Spider, the Witch, and the Elder Guardian.