Skeletons were the first projectile firing mobs added to minecraft. With their bow and arrow they can put up a good fight, though they generally shouldn’t be too difficult to deal with.

When killed, a skeleton will drop 0-2 bones and 0-2 arrows. On top of that there’s a snall chance it drops a bow, with an even smaller chance of that bow being enchanted with Power I. Note that rare drops will only drop if the player kills the skeleton. This makes skeletons a very useful mob to farm. Arrows can take a long time to create on your own and bones can be turned into bonemeal, which instantly grows trees and crops.

Skeletons are also used to get music discs. If the killing blow on a creeper is done by a skeleton, the creeper will drop 1 of 11 music discs.

Occurence and behavior

Skeletons can be found anywhere in the Overworld, but require a light level below 8 to spawn. If they’re caught in direct sunlight the skeleton will catch fire, but the skeleton will then quickly search for shade or water, allowing it to survive the day. While in the water or shade, skeletons will still shoot at you, but they will not follow you.

Skeletons can also be found in some dungeons with skeleton spawners.

Skeletons make the sound of rattling bones, though it’s often compared to the sound of a xylophone. This makes it very easy to detect them, even through walls. Though they only make this noise when they move or get hurt.

Like most mobs, skeletons have a line of sight up to 16 blocks. If a player is in its sight, the skeleton will run towards the player. Though not as fast as a sprinting player, walking players are often outrun. Once the skeleton is within 8 blocks of the player, the skeleton will start shooting arrows at you.

Skeletons have an intelligent AI, which allows them to overcome many obstacles, like lava pools, high drops and maze like obstacles. They can even climb ladders and vines, but cannot attack you while on them and they’ll only used them when they’re directly between the player and skeleton. Skeletons will also strafe to their right while chasing the player (so towards the left of the player), which makes them harder to hit with a bow and arrow.

Skeletons can shoot you the moment they see you, which is very annoying in underground caves, due to the large amount of smaller holes in the walls. A skeleton can be hidden behind a few blocks, with just a 1 block hole through which it can shoot you. The knock back effect of arrows often pushes you out of sight, making it difficult to find its source.

Skeletons can accidently hit other mobs, which will usually cause them to attack other skeletons.
If 2 or more skeletons are chasing you, they’ll often hit each other. If the skeleton hasn’t been hit by the player, it will attack the other skeleton.

Like all other mobs, skeletons can ride minecarts. This is sometimes used in mob farms, though less common. It can also be used to send a surprise package to the other end of the tracks, like a friend’s house for example.

Despite being part of the spider jockey, skeletons do not have a chance of spawning as a skeleton jockey. Spider jockeys will only spawn instead of a spider.

Killing and surviving skeletons

Killing skeletons isn’t too difficult, from a distance it’s usually easy to dodge their arrows. It then only takes 3 normal stricks or 2 critical strikes with a diamond sword to kill them. Using a bow is the safer option, though it will take 3 strikes with a fully drawn bow.
It’s always best to keep moving, especially when you’re using a sword. Skeletons can do 6 hearts of damage in hard mode, (4 in medium, 2 in easy) which could kill you easily if you have no armour. By constantly moving and running in circle around the skeleton, you will minimize the chance of getting hit.

Splash potions of health will harm the skeleton, while splash potions of harming will heal the skeleton. This is very useful when confronted with a large group of skeletons, like in a dungeon with a skeleton spawner.

Defending yourself and your base against skeletons is very easy. Lighting up the place is the most important rule, as no darkness mean no skeletons can spawn. Placing torches outside of your base’s perimmiter will ensure they cannot spawn right outside and wander into your base.
Fences will prevent them from entering at all, though they’ll still be able to shoot you if you get too close. Spiders are also capable of climbing over the fence.

It’s easy to build a draw bridge with pistons or trapdoors, this could be used to create an easy access path over larger moats or moats filled with lava, which is a more stylish border for castles and other such buildings.