Everything to Know About the Wither Skeleton in Minecraft

Wither skeletons are a powerful and creepy hostile mob that resides in the Nether. With their long and sharp swords, they can be quite a challenge when unprepared. They make Nether Fortresses incredibly more dangerous, requiring the player to keep their eyes peeled for them at all times as they hunt for loot or Blazes. But is it about these guys? Just how much damage can they do and what do you get from slaying them? What is this Wither that everyone talks about? Here is everything to know about the Wither Skeleton.

Wither Skeleton

Spawning The Wither Skeleton

Wither Skeletons can spawn in Nether Fortresses at light levels in a range between 0-7. This can happen in groups up to 4. They are also the only mob that can spawn within blocks of Wither Roses due to their immunity to them.

Fun Fact: On Halloween in Java Edition, there is a 22.5% chance that a Wither Skeleton will spawn with a Carved Pumpkin on its head. There is even a rare 2.5% chance of one spawning with a Jack O’ Lantern instead!

Bedrock Edition

In Minecraft Bedrock Edition, there are two special features that Wither Skeletons have when it comes to spawning. When below half health, a Wither Skeleton will spawn 3-4 more on normal and hard difficulties. Spiders and Cave Spiders that are spawned in the Nether also have a 0.8% chance of spawning as a spider jockey with a Wither Skeleton on its back.

Health & Damage

The Wither Skeleton has 10 hearts of health in total. With every hit, the Wither status effect will affect the player for 10 seconds, which destroys one heart of health every 2 seconds. The amount of damage that the skeleton will cause is dependent on the game’s difficulty as well as whether or not it is holding a stone sword:

DifficultyArmed (Hearts)Unarmed (Hearts)

Fun Fact: Wither Skeletons cannot fit underneath the gaps to the staircases of the Nether Wart rooms in the Nether Fortress!


Wither Skeletons will begin to sprint to attack players, Snow Golems, Iron Golems, baby turtles, Piglins, or Piglin Brutes. They will however flee away from from wolves unless attacked first.

On Normal and Hard game difficulties, Wither Skeletons have the ability to pick up dropped gear. This can include swords of a higher tier than stone, or even armor. They will never pick up bows however. In Java Edition, the only way to have a Wither Skeleton use a bow is by spawning one with the command ‘/summon wither_skeleton ~ ~ ~ {HandItems:[{id:bow,Count:1b}]}‘. The Wither Skeleton with the bow will then be able to shoot Fire Aspect arrows!

Wither Skeletons are immune to water in which they don’t drown, and their own wither effect. If one is in the Overworld, then they will search for water or shade in the sunlight in order to avoid burning just like a regular skeleton.

It is important to note that the Wither Skeleton is considered an Undead mob. This means that they will sink underwater without drowning, can be healed with Instant Damage potions and harmed by any Instant Health effects, are completely immune to the Regeneration and Poison effects, and cannot be attacked by the Wither.

Fun Fact: In Bedrock Edition, a Wither Skeleton can be burned by having a Trident with the Channeling enchantment thrown at them during a thunderstorm!


The Wither Skeleton can drop quite a bit of items such as:

Drops% Chances/Descriptions
0-2 Bones Looting III increases range to 0-5 (One per Looting level)
1 Coal 1/3 chance; Looting I (0-2 Coal; .75%), Looting II (0-3 Coal; 1.2%), Looting III (0-4 Coal; 1.67%)
1 Wither Skeleton Skull 2.5% chance; Chance increased to max of 5.5% with Looting III in Java Edition. Chance increased to 8.5% in Bedrock Edition
Stone Sword (Random Durability) 8.5% chance; Maximum 11.5% chance with Looting III
5 Experience Orbs + 1-3 Orbs per Equipment Equipment must not drop upon death to earn orbs per equipment
1 Carved Pumpkin/Jack O’ Lantern (Halloween Only); Must have Looting enchantment; max of 3% chance

Fun Fact: A Wither Skeleton’s Skull will always be dropped when killed by a Charged Creeper explosion!

Spawning The Wither

While many are aware of the final boss in Minecraft being the large and mighty Ender Dragon in the End dimension with its army of Endermen, The Wither is a dangerous and powerful mob and secret boss in Minecraft. Despite its powerful explosive attacks with its projectile skulls and its beefy health, it is still a mob that is incredibly rewarding to fight. The Wither would be the only source to drop a super rare Nether Star item, which can be used to craft Beacons. Beacons are used to create an area that will be able to give you incredible buffs like Speed, Haste, or Strength!

But how do you spawn one since they’re so secretive and rare? Well, you are going to need exactly three Wither Skeleton Skulls. Considering that the base chance for a Wither Skeleton to drop its skull when slain is only a meager 2.5%, it is best to farm or hunt for these mobs using a weapon with Looting III to help increase your chances majorly. Even then the chances still aren’t much, but it is better.

After you acquire your skulls, then the hard part is officially over! All that is needed then is at least 4 blocks of Soul Sand. You will place these blocks in the form of a T-shape just like how you would with Iron Blocks when spawning an Iron Golem. Be mindful that the final block placed MUST be the third Wither Skeleton Skull. This can be done by either simply placing the skull yourself onto the Soul Sand, or by using a dispenser to place it instead. 

Certain blocks such as grass and flowers cannot be present on the blocks surrounding the Soul Sand, including from on-top on a ceiling. This will otherwise prevent the Wither from spawning. While Wither spawn builds can be built vertically or horizontally along the sides of walls, the Wither will always spawn from the foot or bottom block of the build. 

After this, the Wither will immediately spawn without hesitation, so be sure to have yourself prepared for a long battle the second you finish the build. 

Tip: If a Wither is spawned and then the game mode is set to Peaceful, then the Wither will automatically disappear. Otherwise when attempting to spawn a Wither in this game mode, no Wither will spawn when building its spawn.


There are multiple achievements or advancements that can involve the Wither Skeleton to be achieved such as:

AchievementHow To Complete
Sniper DuelKill a Skeleton, Spider Jockey, Wither Skeleton, or a Stray with a bow or crossbow from 50 miles away
Spooky Scary SkeletonHave a Wither Skeleton Skull in your inventory
AdventureKill any or be killed by any entity
Monster HunterKill any hostile mob
It SpreadsKill any hostile mob nearby a Skulk Catalyst
Monsters HuntedKill one of every single hostile mob

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