Overworld: Light level of 7 or less, anywhere but slabs (half blocks) or transparent blocks. Nether: Nether Fortresses.
Skeletons are ranged, hostile mobs armed with bows that shoot arrows at the player and any other mob that attacks it. Like zombies, skeletons spawn in dimly lit areas, and will burn when directly in sunlight (when the sun is 15 degrees or greater above the ground) unless they are swimming in water. The skeleton will not burn if not directly in view of the sun, e.g. underneath a tree.
Since their initial introduction into the game, skeletons have received an AI update that has allowed them be about as "intelligent" as zombies, since they were both given similar AI updates. Skeletons can since now seek cover when on fire, and can perform many other "smarter" actions.
A skeleton has white bones that look gray sometimes, a skull head, and the same face as almost every hostile mob in the game, just with a darker and/or lighter appearance, along with different color schemes and mouth. In their right hand, they hold a bow. Rarely, a skeleton will spawn with an Enchanted bow or armor (as seen here: File:Enchanted bow Wielded by a Skeleton.png) though the chances for dropping it remain the same. On October 31st, skeletons, zombies, and Zombie Pigmen can be seen with either a pumpkin or Jack 'o' Lantern as a helmet. If you want to see this without it actually being Halloween, simply set your system's clock to October 31st. The year or time is irrelevant.
Skeletons are an excellent source of bones (and bone meal) and can also drop arrows. Each skeleton will drop 0 - 2 bones and 0 - 2 arrows upon death. Although skeletons will fire arrows into walls and the ground, the player cannot pick up and re-use these arrows. Because of its valuable drops, skeleton dungeons are well sought-out for mob grinding purposes.
Skeletons also have a 1/40 chance of dropping a bow only when they are killed by the player. There is a 1/5 chance the bow may be pre-enchanted with Power I. As of 1.4.7, there are even rarer occurrences of pre-enchanted bows up to Power III, Flame I, and Infinity I. Although extremely rare, it is possible to receive a drop of a bow with all three of these enchantments.
Killing a skeleton from 50 meters away is necessary for the achievement "Sniper Duel". (See below.)
When skeletons are nearby, their presence is indicated by the soft rattling sound of their bones. Skeletons will chase any player they see within a 16 block radius. They will climb steps, navigate mazes, and traverse other complex obstacles in order to get close to the player. When they are within 10 blocks of the player, with a clear line of sight, they will stop chasing and start shooting the player with arrows. If the player moves more than 16 blocks away from the skeleton, it will cease pursuit. Skeletons will attempt to avoid damage from the player by continuously circling around them while in combat. The general path finding capabilities of the skeleton is demonstrated in this video.
If a skeleton's arrow hits another hostile mob, that mob will then attack the skeleton the same way it would attack the player (with the exception of zombies and creepers, which usually manage to continue pursuing the player).
Skeletons are unique in that they can hit an Enderman with their arrows, which the player can't do. However, this will result in the Enderman becoming hostile towards the skeleton and killing it in a few blows.
Skeletons normally attack with a bow, however if they pick up a weapon they will switch to melee, unless the item is another bow.
Skeletons will attempt to avoid sunlight by running under shade or into water.
- Player Interaction
- Some Skeletons can be modified, "customized" by giving them armor by dropping it, enchanted or not. If you give a Skeleton armor, and then give the Skeleton better armor for example, iron as opposed to leather, the skeleton will drop its old armor, and collect the new armor, much like a Zombie. Skeletons that are wearing a helmet will be no longer effected by sunlight, this also applies to zombies. You also may be able to give a skeleton an enchanted bow. It is highly unlikely, but possible.
- You may also put pumpkins on their heads.
Cleanly killing a skeleton generally requires the use of a bow and arrows. Melee combat will usually result in the player getting hit by at least one arrow before dispatching the skeleton. In addition, the closer the player gets to the skeleton, the faster it will shoot its arrows. If ranged combat is not an option, it is possible to minimize damage by blocking with a sword. This strategy can be used effectively by blocking just before the skeleton shoots an arrow and rushing forward after the shot. Repeating this process even while the skeleton is in melee range will allow the player to kill the skeleton while taking as little damage as possible from arrows.
An effective strategy for melee combat is to lure the skeleton to an obstacle and ambush it when it comes around the corner. This is effective for taking out single skeletons, but can be very tedious if more than one skeleton, or worse, a Creeper or a Spider Jockey, is pursuing you.
As skeletons are not solid, it is also possible to back them into a corner and stand inside them, hitting them with the sword. The knockback will keep them in the corner, and they will fire arrows directly into the ground, not harming the player.
Sugar cane can be used to shield ones player from skeleton arrows. Skeletons cannot shoot through sugar cane blocks. If you hide inside sugar cane, skeletons will approach you but not fire, which is very useful for getting close to skeletons. Note though you will have to cut through the sugar cane to hit the skeleton.
Going after skeletons while swimming is not advised, as the water will slow the player's movement down to the point of making them an easy target for the skeleton's arrows. (However a risky but useful method of fighting while in water is to sink to the bottom of the water and move underneath the skeleton. This allows the player to attack without being attacked by the skeleton. The only negative is the chance of getting overly comfortable and drowning yourself.)
When dropped, bows and swords can be picked up by skeletons. They will deal the same damage regardless of the sword type. Every kind of sword can be picked up. If the skeleton already has a sword and picks up another one, the current one will be dropped. When killed, the sword will be dropped again, with the durability unchanged.
 Defensive measures
Skeletons are vulnerable to daylight (when not standing in water or in the shade), lava, fire, falling, suffocation, and contact with cacti. They are also able to climb ladders. Surface skeleton populations can be controlled if the player regularly sleeps in a bed at dusk, since skeletons will spawn in the dark if given the chance to. Players can keep an ear out for the clicking and xylophone-like sounds of nearby skeletons in caves and use certain corners and tight spaces to their advantage.
 Construction safeguards
Proper lighting around and inside structures is essential to preventing skeletons (and other hostile mobs) from spawning.
- Main article: Achievements
|Icon||Achievement||In-game description||Prerequisites||Actual requirements (if different)||Version restriction||Xbox points earned|
|Sniper Duel||Kill a skeleton with an arrow from more than 50 meters||Monster Hunter||"50 meters" is 50 blocks away.||PC||N/A|
|0.24 (August 14, 2009)||Skeletons are added. They spawned randomly in new Survival maps and followed players when approached, much like zombies. They shot arrows with a purple/magenta colored shaft, appeared to fire arrows at a faster and more random rate, and shot 6 arrows outward a short range in all directions when dying. Arrows fired by skeletons at that time could be picked up and used by players. Skeletons took 5 hits to kill and could appear wearing NPC armor (that gave them no additional protection) and gave 120 points when killed.|
|0.25 (September 3, 2009)||Skeletons would drop 0 - 2 arrows upon death.|
|1.2.0||Skeletons now hold a bow in their right hand.|
|1.2||Skeletons can drop 0 - 2 bones in addition to arrows.|
|1.8||Skeleton's bow is now larger and held more realistically (full-sized bows, two-handed, and pulling the arrow back) than in previous versions (in one hand) and they also fire arrows slightly slower. Their arrows however, will be shot with more force.|
|Fixed a bug where skeletons would fire their arrows from above their heads.|
|1.2.1||12w04a||Skeletons' AI was updated so they are "smarter", i.e. if a skeleton catches fire in daylight, it will rush to the nearest shadow or body of water for safety.|
|12w06a||There is a small chance that skeletons drop a bow when killed. There is also a small chance that the bow will be enchanted.|
|1.4.2||12w32a||Skeletons, zombies and zombie pigmen now pick up dropped items. They also have the ability to wear armor and wield a weapon, so if they pick up armor, they will wear it. If they pick up a weapon, they wield it. But there is a bug that skeletons will fire arrows even if they are wielding a sword.|
|12w36a||Skeletons can be found in Nether Fortresses along with Wither Skeletons, the Nether equivalent of skeletons.|
|1.4.2||On Halloween (31st October), skeletons, wither skeletons, zombies and zombie pigmen now have a chance of spawning with a pumpkin or Jack 'o' Lantern.|
|1.4.3pre||Skeletons now rush to the Player instead of shooting arrows if they don't have a bow.|
|1.5||13w02a||Skeletons shoot from a range of 15 blocks instead of 10.|
|13w03a||Skeletons begin to fire rapidly at players who come within close range in an attempt to knock them back. Thus making melee combat in water or streams hard, if not impossible.|
- It is possible for a skeleton to spawn, shoot you, then despawn on peaceful difficulty. It will still deal damage.
- A skeleton that is wearing any headgear (regardless of other armor) will not burn in sunlight, similar to zombies.
- Skeletons' arrows will often miss the player if they stand perfectly still and the skeleton doesn't move.
- Despite appearing to not be enchanted, skeletons' bows are treated as though they have the infinity enchantment; they fire infinitely and their arrows cannot be picked up.
- Skeletons' legs have the same texture as their arms.
- If alerted to a player's presence, skeletons can (and will) fire arrows backwards (behind them).
- If the player is under a skeleton, it will shoot itself.
- Skeletons may spawn on top of a spider creating a dangerous Spider Jockey.
- Skeletons can climb up ladders, but they will not shoot the players while climbing up. They do not use ladders to their advantage, and often simply use it if it is directly in front of them while in pursuit of the player.
- A skeleton hit by a splash potion of harming will gain health, however, when it is hit by a splash potion of healing it will lose health. It is also unaffected by potions of regeneration and poison. This is because skeletons are undead.
- Skeletons cannot see the player through glass unless the skeleton already knows you're there.
- Skeletons will not go in pursuit mode when it is under the shade at any time of day. When it reaches nighttime however, they will start giving chase. But, they will always shoot the player when in range, regardless of the time of day.
- If a skeleton shoots a Zombie Pigman, only the Zombie Pigman that was shot will attack the skeleton rather than all nearby Zombie Pigmen.
- If you stand inside of the skeleton he can't hurt you, but you can hurt him.
- Skeletons and Zombie Pigmen are the only mobs that can naturally occur in both the Overworld and the Nether.
- Sometimes, if a skeleton is engaging the player, and the player leaves the game and quickly returns, the skeleton will be invisible for a short amount of time. The skeleton will still fire arrows, and be acknowledged by other mobs with glances, but its arrows will not cause damage for the time it is invisible, and will bounce off the player.
- 25% of dungeons are skeleton dungeons.
- There is a bug that skeletons holding a weapon that is not a bow will not retaliate when a snow golem attacks them.
- In Pocket Edition, if you get the skeleton to walk into glass panes, it will then be able to shoot arrows through the glass panes.
- If a skeleton obtains a sword of any kind, it will run at the same speed as a player walks towards a target.
- In Pocket Edition, the skeleton's left arm is pointing towards the bow, as if holding it with two hands.
- The reason why skeletons are fast when a bow is not equipped is because they share the same Mob ID as Wither Skeletons.
- Skeletons are one of the three mobs that carry a weapon by default, the other two being the Wither Skeleton and the Zombie Pigman.
- When wearing a helmet, the durability on the helmet goes down slowly because the skeleton is supposed to burn. The helmet will eventually break. And setting the skeleton on fire. This also happens with zombies.
Two skeletons shooting each other in 1.9pre4. The skeleton on the right is a Spider Jockey skeleton riding a spider.
A Skeleton in the Nether used as the 12w36a snapshot image.