Overworld: Light level of 7 or less, anywhere but slabs (half blocks) or transparent blocks.
Like other mobs that burn in sunlight, burning occurs at dawn when the sun is 15 degrees or greater above the ground, unless the skeleton is either in shade or water, or wearing a helmet. If not wearing a helmet, they will attempt to find shade or water to keep from burning.
Skeletons have gray bone bodies and the same basic heads as most other hostile mobs. They always carry bows in their right hand, which can rarely be droppable upon their death; in those cases, the bow also has a chance of being enchanted. Skeletons can also spawn with the ability to pick up armor, and in those cases, they can spawn already wearing armor, which has a chance of being dropped.
Skeletons are the most readily available source of bones, and thereby bone meal, a useful resource. They can also drop arrows. Each skeleton will drop 0-2 bones and/or 0-2 arrows upon death. Although skeletons' fired arrows can often be seen stuck in blocks, those cannot be picked up by players. Because of its valuable drops, dungeons containing skeleton spawners are sought 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 that their bow is enchanted with Power I, with rarer chances of Power II, Power III, Punch I, Flame I, or Infinity I. Although extremely rare, it is also possible for a bow to drop with multiple enchantments. If their bow is enchanted, their arrows will be affected; notably, with a Flame enchantment, they can set the player on fire.
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 intermittent soft rattling sound of their bones. Skeletons will chase any player they see within a 16 block radius. They will climb stairs, navigate mazes, and traverse other complex obstacles in order to get close to the player. When they are within 15 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 can attempt to avoid damage from the player by continuously circling around them while shooting at them. 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). For Zombie Pigmen, only the particular pigman attacked will respond, not others in the area. If a skeleton is attacked by another mob (usually another skeleton), it will attack that mob, reorienting on the player only once that mob is dead.
Skeletons can hit Endermen with their arrows, which the player can't do. This usually results in the Enderman becoming hostile towards the skeleton and killing it in a few blows.
Skeletons normally attack with a bow, however some can spawn with the ability to pick up items, and will switch to a melee weapon if they pick one up. If the skeleton already has a sword and finds a better one, they will drop the current sword and use the better one. When killed, the sword will be dropped again, with its durability unchanged. They will also wear any armor items and mob heads they pick up, and wear pumpkins or Jack 'o' Lanterns as headgear. When wielding anything but a bow, they will move much more quickly. If spawned with no weapon at all (presumably by the player using spawn commands or the mapmaker including a trap that spawns) a skeleton acts like a zombie, coming at the player with arms outstretched and damaging the player by touching them without swinging their arms.
Skeletons are also able to climb ladders, but only when forced to, as their AI does not handle ladders in a special way.
Since release 1.8 (snapshot 14w10) skeletons now run from wolves similar to creepers from ocelots, as wolves attack and chase skeletons. When skeletons are safe from sunlight, and a wolf attacked one, they will shoot back at the wolf.
Killing a skeleton with minimal damage taken to the player 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, as dodging their arrows is very unlikely. 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 oneself from skeleton arrows, as 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, that you will have to cut through the sugar cane to hit the skeleton.
Vines will prevent skeletons from seeing you (will prevent all mobs actually, except ones that can see through walls, which skeletons can't). Once they have seen you (for example if you walk through the vines) hiding behind the vines again won't make them forget you are there. However they can't shoot you through the vines because they can't see you. Instead they will try to get through the vines so they can re-acquire their target. This is not a problem with projectiles passing through vines, just a sight problem, however players can see through vines just fine and so can pick the enemies off as they try to get to the vines so they can start attacking again.
Using other mobs to kill the skeleton can also be done. You need to get the skeleton to shoot another hostile mob that isn't a zombie or creeper. Starting such "mobfights" is useful when pursued by a group of monsters, and it can get some of the crowd off your back while you deal with the others.
Approaching skeletons in water is best done in deep water, where you should sink underneath the skeleton and attack from below. Like most mobs, skeletons always float, and will not sink down to fight you. If you are directly below them, they may shoot themselves.
Like other undead, a skeleton will be healed by a splash potion of harming, harmed by a splash potion of healing, and unaffected by potions of regeneration or poison. They take extra damage from a sword with the Smite enchantment.
Be careful in caves, the threat is not just from from the arrow's damage, but their knockback. Oftentimes caves will have massive ledges or lava rivers/lakes near by, if one is too close then a single shot from an arrow can push you off and kill you from the fall or burn you in lava. Light up the caves to give less places for skeletons to spawn.
Skeletons burn in sunlight, unless wearing head armor (including Pumpkins and Jack-o lanterns). Skeletons will attempt to avoid burning in sunlight by running under shade or into water. If they are wearing a helmet in the sun, the helmet will lose durability as it protects them. Eventually, it will be destroyed, exposing the skeleton to the sun.
 Defensive measures
Skeletons are vulnerable to daylight (water, shade or helmet protects them), lava, fire, falling, suffocation, and contact with cacti. Surface skeleton populations can be controlled if the player regularly sleeps in a bed at dusk, since skeletons will only spawn if a player is awake at night. Players can keep an ear out for the clicking and xylophone-like sounds of nearby skeletons in caves and use corners and tight spaces to their advantage.
|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 (probably because bows had now needed "charging"). 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(power I).|
|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.|
|Skeletons, zombies, and zombie pigmen can spawn wearing any type of armor (including chain); both armor and weapons may be enchanted.|
|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. This makes melee combat in water or streams hard, if not impossible.|
|1.8||14w10a||Now run away from wolves instead of fighting back.|
|14w11a||Now run away from creepers that are about to explode.|
|Pocket Edition Alpha|
|0.5.0||Skeletons have new animations.|
- It is possible for a skeleton to spawn, shoot you, then despawn on peaceful difficulty. It will still deal damage.
- Even when not enchanted, skeletons' bows are treated as though they have infinite arrows.
- Skeletons' legs have the same texture as their arms.
- If alerted to a player's presence, skeletons can fire arrows backwards, occasionally hitting themselves.
- Spiders rarely spawn with a Skeleton riding them, creating a Spider Jockey.
- Skeletons cannot see the player through glass, fences, or other transparent blocks.
- Skeletons and Zombie Pigmen are the only mobs that can naturally occur in both the Overworld and the Nether.
- Sometimes, if a skeleton is chasing 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 not holding a bow will not retaliate when any mob attacks them.
- In Pocket Edition, if skeletons walk over glass panes, they can shoot arrows through them.
- 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.
- Skeletons are actually much faster than zombies, when holding a sword, they sprint at you as fast as a Wither Skeleton or Zombie Pigman, but they go as fast as zombies when holding the bow. This is because they share the same Mob ID as a Wither Skeleton.
- Skeletons are one of three mobs that carry a weapon by default, the other two being the Wither Skeleton and the Zombie Pigman.
- In Pocket Edition, Skeletons have less accuracy.
- If a skeleton is stacked on top of a boat in water (such as with the /summon command), the boat can be controlled by the skeleton.
- If a skeleton is spawned on a slab (by using a spawn egg or the summon command), it will be unaffected by sunlight until leaving said slab.
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.