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For the variant that spawns in icy biomes, see Stray. For the Nether variant, see Wither Skeleton. For other uses, see Skeleton (disambiguation).

A skeleton is an undead hostile mob that performs ranged attacks with a bow.


Under the darkness[]

A skeleton may spawn above a solid block at a light level of 0 from all Overworld except in mushroom fields and deep dark biomes, usually in small groups of up to four skeletons in Java Edition or two skeletons in Bedrock Edition. 80% of skeletons spawned directly under the sky in snowy plains, ice spikes, frozen oceans, deep frozen oceans and legacy frozen oceans biomes spawn as stray mobs.

From spider jockeys[]

Spiders have a very low chance to spawn with a skeleton riding them, creating a spider jockey.

From skeletal traps during tempests[]

Four skeleton horsemen spawn when a skeleton horse trap is triggered, typically during a thunderstorm. The skeletons ride on skeleton horses and are equipped with enchanted bows and iron helmets and, in Java Edition, have damage immunity for 3 seconds after spawning.

From monster spawners in monster rooms[]

Skeletons spawn from 25% of the monster spawners found in monster rooms.

In the Nether[]

Skeletons spawn commonly in soul sand valleys biomes. However, existing skeletons lower the spawning chances of other hostile mobs nearby, meaning there are much less skeletons in a given area compared to zombified piglins in nether wastes. In nether fortresses structures, there is a 20% chance that a skeleton spawns in place of a wither skeleton.


A skeleton drops upon death:

  • From 0 to 2 bones. The maximum drop is increased by 1 per level of Looting, for a maximum of 0-5 bones with Looting III.
  • From 0 to 2 arrows. The maximum drop is increased by 1 per level of Looting, for a maximum of 0-5 arrows with Looting III.
  • Any naturally spawned equipment, naturally its damaged and sometimes enchanted bow, has an 8.5% chance of dropping if killed by the player or a tamed wolf (9.5% with Looting I, 10.5% with Looting II, and 11.5% with Looting III).
  • Picked-up items always drop and drop with the same damage level it had when picked up.
  • A skeleton skull if killed by a charged creeper's explosion.
  • 5 experience orbs when killed by a player or a tamed wolf, and an extra 1–3 orbs for each piece of natural equipment that does not drop upon death.
    • Because all skeletons spawn with at least a bow, this leaves an unarmored skeleton dropping 6–8 if it doesn't drop its bow upon death.
    • If the skeleton does drop its bow, it drops the default 5 instead.


Skeletons chase players, baby turtles and iron golems they see within 16 blocks, climbing stairs or ladders, navigating mazes and traversing other complex obstacles to get within shooting range.

Skeleton shooting

A skeleton shooting.

When within 15 blocks of a target, with a clear line of sight, a skeleton starts shooting with arrows, once every 2 seconds on Easy and Normal difficulties or once every second on Hard difficulty. If the player leaves the 15-block radius, skeletons wait for some seconds with the bow charged, shooting the moment the player comes within range again. Their detection range is reduced by 50% if a skeleton skull is worn by the player. This stacks with sneaking and the Invisibility effect.

The skeleton's accuracy is based on the world difficulty. Skeletons have an "error" of 10 on Easy, 6 on Normal and 2 on Hard. This is compared to the player's lack of accuracy of 1. To account for gravity, skeletons aim 0.2 blocks higher for every horizontal block of range to the target.

Skeletons have infinite durability on their bows, and can shoot an infinite amount of arrows. Arrows shot by skeletons cannot be picked up from the ground.

Skeleton behavior varies between the game editions:

Java Edition
  • Strafe in circular patterns to dodge attacks and retreat to a safe range if the player comes within 4 blocks.
    • They sometimes walk off cliffs while strafing.[1]
  • Sprint toward the player if they are 14 blocks away or farther.
  • Use bows even underwater. The water slows down the arrows.
  • Animates its bow while attacking.
Bedrock Edition
  • Skeletons typically stop moving to shoot, making no attempt to avoid being hit.
  • An underwater skeleton uses a melee attack because it is unable to use a bow underwater.
  • A skeleton on land shoots quickly at a player in water. The rate of fire increases as the player approaches, making combat difficult due to the knockback.

In most cases, if a skeleton's arrow hits a neutral or hostile mob that has not yet been attacked by the player, the mob attacks the skeleton. When a skeleton is attacked by another mob (including another skeleton), it attacks that mob, reorienting on the player once the mob is dead. Skeletons flee from wolves. A skeleton runs from a chasing wolf until the wolf deals damage, after which the skeleton turns to shoot at the wolf that successfully attacked it.


Dueling skeletons. One skeleton turned red from being shot by the other skeleton.

Skeletons sink in water and cannot swim, but do not drown. If a skeleton is inside of powder snow for 7 seconds, it converts into a stray. A newly-converted stray always has full health even if converted from a damaged skeleton. The converted stray keeps any items worn or held when it was a skeleton. Only skeletons can become strays; wither skeletons cannot be converted.

Wolves attacking skeleton

Wolves attacking a skeleton.

If spawned with a weapon other than a bow, or no weapon at all (which can be spawned with commands such as /summon skeleton ~ ~ ~ {HandItems:[{Count:1,id:"iron_sword"}]}, or /summon skeleton ~ ~ ~ {}), a skeleton charges at a player with arms outstretched and deals damage by touch, similar to a wither skeleton.

A skeleton holding a tipped arrow in its off-hand always shoots that type of arrow, and the arrow held is not consumed.

If a creeper dies from a skeleton's arrow, it drops one of any music discs except for Pigstep, Otherside, 5, and Relic.


Skeleton on fire

A skeleton burning in sunlight.

Skeletons burn at dawn when the sun is 15 degrees or greater above the ground and when the moon can no longer be seen, unless the skeleton is:

If not wearing a helmet, it seeks out shade during the day or enters water to protect itself. Unlike zombies, which leave the shade to chase a player, skeletons do not exit the shaded area even while attacking.

Mob type[]

Skeletons are undead mobs, causing them to be damaged by the Instant Health status effect, healed by the Instant Damage status effect, and unaffected by the status effects Regeneration and Poison. Skeletons are ignored by the wither and are affected by the Smite enchantment.

Geared skeletons[]

Some spawned skeletons have the ability to pick up dropped items from the ground. Unlike zombies, however, they pick up only weapons or armor. If a picked up item is armor, a carved pumpkin or a mob head, a skeleton equips itself with the item. If the picked up item is a weapon, the skeleton uses the item as a melee weapon. In Bedrock Edition, skeletons can also pick up and equip illager banners worn in their chest slot.

Skeletons spawn already-armed with bows, which may be enchanted. The chances of that event are listed below from code. If a skeleton spawns wearing multiple pieces of armor, the armor is never mismatched (all pieces are made of the same material) except if it is spawned as part of a skeleton trap, in which case only the iron helmet may not match the rest of the armor.

Easy Normal Hard
Armor 0% 0%–15%[note 1] 1.875%–15%[note 1]
Weapon[note 2] 100% 100% 100%
Pick up 0% 0%–55%[note 1] 6.875%–55%[note 1]
Weapon enchantment[note 3] 0% 0%–25%[note 1] 3.125%–25%[note 1]
Armor enchantment[note 3] 0% 0%–50%[note 1] 6.25%–50%[note 1]
  1. a b c d e f g h i Value is based on the regional difficulty.
  2. 100% chance of a bow
  3. a b Enchantment is the same as on an enchantment table at level 5–22.[note 1]

If a skeleton does spawn with armor, the chances of specific armor are as follows:

Armor Easy & Normal Hard
1 piece 100% 100%
2 pieces 75% 90%
3 pieces 56.25% 81%
Full set 42.19% 72.9%

In Java Edition, the armor pieces go from feet to head, and in Bedrock Edition, they go from head to feet.

The chances of it being of a particular material are:

Armor Type Chance
Leather 37.06%
Gold 48.73%
Chain 12.90%
Iron 1.2%
Diamond 0.04%

The armor is not damaged from most damage sources; it cannot "wear out" the way player armor does. Helmets (not blocks like carved pumpkins) on skeletons can break if the skeleton is exposed to daylight or has an anvil or other falling block dropped on its hitbox.

If a skeleton has a bow and a sword is given, it drops the bow, with the same chance as if killed with Looting I and starts using the sword. If a skeleton has a sword or bow in its hand, and one of a better type or with better enchantments is given, the skeleton drops the existing weapon, with the same chance as if killed with Looting I in favor of the better one. Any skeleton that spawns with equipment (picked-up items do not count) gives 1–3 extra experience points per item.

If multiple viable items exist, the skeleton endlessly picks up and drops the items.[3]

On Halloween, skeletons may spawn wearing a carved pumpkin or jack o'lantern. They do not drop this, even when killed with Looting.


Java Edition:
Skeletons use the Hostile Creatures sound category for entity-dependent sound events.

SoundSubtitlesSourceDescriptionResource locationTranslation keyVolumePitchAttenuation
Skeleton rattlesHostile CreaturesRandomlyentity.skeleton.ambientsubtitles.entity.skeleton.ambient1.00.8-1.216
Skeleton converts to StrayHostile CreaturesWhen a skeleton converts to a strayentity.skeleton.converted_to_straysubtitles.entity.skeleton.converted_to_stray2.00.8-1.216
Skeleton diesHostile CreaturesWhen a skeleton diesentity.skeleton.deathsubtitles.entity.skeleton.death1.00.8-1.216
Skeleton hurtsHostile CreaturesWhen a skeleton is damagedentity.skeleton.hurtsubtitles.entity.skeleton.hurt1.00.8-1.216
Skeleton shootsHostile CreaturesWhen a skeleton shoots an arrowentity.skeleton.shootsubtitles.entity.skeleton.shoot1.056-1.2516
FootstepsHostile CreaturesWhile a skeleton is walkingentity.skeleton.stepsubtitles.block.generic.footsteps0.151.016

Bedrock Edition:

SoundSourceDescriptionResource locationVolumePitch
Hostile CreaturesRandomlymob.skeleton.say1.00.8-1.2
Friendly CreaturesWhen a skeleton converts to a straymob.skeleton.convert_to_stray1.01.0
Hostile CreaturesWhen a skeleton diesmob.skeleton.death1.00.8-1.2
Hostile CreaturesWhen a skeleton is damagedmob.skeleton.hurt0.70.8-1.2
PlayersWhen a skeleton shoots an arrow[sound 1][upcoming: BE 1.20.30]random.bow1.00.83-1.25
Hostile CreaturesWhile a skeleton is walkingmob.skeleton.step1.01.0

Data values[]


Java Edition:

NameIdentifierEntity tags (JE)Translation key

Bedrock Edition:

NameIdentifierNumeric ID Translation key

Entity data[]

Skeletons have entity data associated with them that contains various properties.

Java Edition:

Main article: Entity format
  • Entity data
    • Tags common to all entities
    • Tags common to all mobs
    •  StrayConversionTime: The number of ticks until this skeleton converts to a stray (default value is -1, when no conversion is under way).

Bedrock Edition:

See Bedrock Edition level format/Entity format.


Icon Achievement In-game description Actual requirements (if different) Gamerscore earned Trophy type (PS4)
PS4 Other
Monster HunterAttack and destroy a monster.Kill a hostile mob or one of the following neutral mobs: an enderman, a piglin, a zombified piglin, a spider, or a cave spider.15GBronze
Sniper DuelKill a Skeleton with an arrow from more than 50 meters.Use a launched arrow to kill a skeleton, spider jockey, wither skeleton, or a stray from 50 or more blocks away, horizontally.30GBronze


Icon Advancement In-game description Parent Actual requirements (if different) Resource location
Advancement-plain-rawNot Today, Thank You
Deflect a projectile with a Shield Suit UpBlock any projectile with a shield.story/deflect_arrow
Adventure, exploration and combat Kill any entity, or be killed by any entity.adventure/root
Advancement-plain-rawMonster Hunter
Kill any hostile monster AdventureKill one of these 34 mobs: Only the riders of the chicken jockeys and skeleton horsemen are counted in this advancement. Other mobs may be killed, but are ignored for this advancement.adventure/kill_a_mob
Advancement-plain-rawA Throwaway Joke
Throw a Trident at something.
Note: Throwing away your only weapon is not a good idea.
Monster HunterHit a mob with a thrown trident.adventure/throw_trident
Advancement-fancy-rawIt Spreads
Kill a mob near a Sculk Catalyst Monster HunterKill one of these 70 mobs near a sculk catalyst: Mobs that drop no experience are ignored for this advancement.adventure/kill_mob_near_sculk_catalyst
Advancement-plain-rawTake Aim
Shoot something with an Arrow Monster HunterUsing a bow or a crossbow, shoot an entity with an arrow, tipped arrow, or spectral arrow.adventure/shoot_arrow
Advancement-fancy-rawMonsters Hunted
Kill one of every hostile monster Monster HunterKill each of these 34 mobs: Other mobs may be killed, but are ignored for this advancement. Only the riders of the chicken jockeys and skeleton horsemen are counted in this advancement.adventure/kill_all_mobs
Advancement-fancy-rawSniper Duel
Kill a Skeleton from at least 50 meters away Take AimBe at least 50 blocks away horizontally when a skeleton is killed by an arrow after the player has attacked it once.adventure/sniper_duel


August 14, 2009Notch teased skeletons.
Java Edition Classic
0.24_SURVIVAL_TESTSkeleton JE1 Added skeletons.
Skeletons spawn randomly in new Survival maps and follow players when approached, much like zombies.
0.25 SURVIVAL TESTSkeletons now fire arrows with a purple/magenta colored shaft, appear to fire arrows at a faster and more random rate, and shoot 6 arrows outward a short-range in all directions when dying. Arrows fired by skeletons can be picked up and used by players.
Skeletons now take five hits to kill and can appear wearing NPC armor (that gave them no additional protection) and gave 120 points when killed.
Java Edition Indev
0.3120091223-1Skeletons and other mobs no longer spawn naturally.
20100202Skeletons and other mobs now spawn naturally again. However, they are currently passive.
Skeletons no longer wear armor.
The skeleton's attacking animation has been removed.
20100204-2Skeletons are now hostile again.
The purple arrows that skeletons throw have been removed and have been replaced by regular (brown) arrows.
20100213Skeletons now catch on fire when exposed to sunlight.
20100218The chances of catching on fire in sunlight have been tweaked for skeletons.
Skeletons now burn only when the sunlight level is greater than 7, and not due to torches at night.[is this the correct version?]
20100219Skeletons now drop arrows.
Java Edition Alpha
v1.2.0?Skeleton JE2 Skeletons now hold a bow in their right hand, however they were held as an item just like a player would hold it at this period.
Java Edition Beta
1.2Skeletons can now drop 0-2 bones, in addition to arrows.
1.8Pre-releaseSkeleton JE3 BE1 The bows of skeletons are now larger and held realistically (full-sized bows, two-handed, and pulling the arrow back).
Skeletons now fire arrows slower but further.
Java Edition
1.0.0Beta 1.9 PrereleaseSkeleton JE4 BE2 Skeletons now hold their bow with one hand again, but they still have the larger and held realistically bow.
1.2.112w04aThe skeleton's AI has been improved: if a skeleton catches fire in daylight, it rushes to the nearest shadow or body of water.
12w06aThere now is a 8.5% chance that a skeleton drops a bow when killed. There is also a small chance of the bow being enchanted.
Skeletons no longer spin in circles on non-full-height blocks.
1.4.212w32aSkeletons, zombies and zombie pigmen can now pick up dropped items. They also have the ability to wear armor and wield a weapon, so if they pick up armor, they wear it.
Skeletons, zombies, and zombie pigmen can now spawn wearing any type of armor (including chain); both armor and weapons may be enchanted.
12w36aSkeletons may now be found in nether fortresses along with wither skeletons.
12w37aSkeleton with Carved Pumpkin JE4 Skeleton with Jack o'Lantern JE4 On Halloween, skeletons, wither skeletons, zombies and zombie pigmen now have a chance of spawning with a pumpkin or jack o'lantern.
12w38aSkeletons now have new sounds. now rush toward the player, instead of shooting arrows, if they don't have a bow.
1.513w02aSkeletons now shoot from a range of 15 blocks instead of 10.
Accuracy of skeleton can now be changed by changing difficulty.
13w03aSkeletons now fire rapidly at players who come within close range, in an attempt to knock them back. This makes melee combat in water hard.
1.814w10aSkeletons now run away from wolves, instead of fighting back.
14w11aSkeletons now run away from creepers that are about to explode.
14w30aSkeletons now drop their skulls when killed by a charged creeper.
1.8.1pre1Skeletons no longer run away from creepers that are about to explode due to performance issues.
1.915w31aSkeleton JE5 BE3 Skeletons now lower their arms when idle.
Skeletons can now, once again, animate their bow; they pull it out when becoming hostile and draw it back to fire arrows.
Skeletons now have an 11% chance of spawning with their bow in their left hand.
Skeletons can dual wield.
Skeleton Aiming JE1 Skeletons now hold their bow with two hands again when aiming.
15w32aThe detection range of skeletons is halved when the player is wearing a skeleton mob head.
15w38aSkeletons now shoot one arrow per second and have improved behavior, allowing them to be a bit faster and strafe while shooting.
Skeletons spawn from skeleton trap horses.
15w39aSkeletons are slightly taller (1.99 blocks tall rather than 1.95).
Skeletons shoot an arrow every 2 seconds on Easy and Normal instead of 1.
pre1Skeletons shoot flaming arrows only when burning and regional difficulty is 3 or greater.
Skeletons holding tipped arrows in their off-hand now shoot that type of arrow.
Entity ID Skeleton is now skeleton, wither_skeleton and stray for those respective mobs.
1.1116w32aSkeletons no longer shoot flaming arrows when they are on fire.[4]
1.1318w07aSkeletons seek and attack baby turtles.
18w19aSkeletons sink underwater.
Skeletons no longer drown underwater.
1.1418w43aSkeleton JE6 BE4 The texture of skeletons has been changed.
1.1519w37aMobs that spawn wearing carved pumpkins or jack o'lanterns on Halloween no longer drop them.
1.1620w06aSkeletons can now spawn in soul sand valley biomes.
Pre-release 4Increased skeleton's spawning weight in soul sand valleys from 2 to 10.
1.1721w05aSkeletons now turn into strays when they are in powder snow.
21w13aDecreased stray conversion time in powder snow from 30 to 7 seconds.
1.18Experimental Snapshot 1Skeletons now spawn only at light level 0.
1.19Pre-release 1Skeletons can now spawn from light level 0 to 11 in the Nether.
1.19.322w46aSkeletons now spawn from light level 0 to 7 in the Nether.
Pocket Edition Alpha
v0.3.3Skeleton JE3 BE1 Added skeletons.
Skeletons use outdated sounds, move slowly, and shoot an arrow every 3 seconds with poor aim.
v0.5.0Skeletons now have new animations.
v0.7.3Skeletons are now set on fire when exposed to sunlight. Previously, they emit smoke particles and take damage, but are not visually on fire.
v0.9.0build 8Skeletons now have new AI.
build 9Skeletons now use the old AI again because they weren't firing arrows correctly.
v0.11.0build 1Skeleton JE4 BE2 Skeletons no longer hold bows with 2 arms.
Skeletons may now spawn as rider from spiders or cave spiders.
build 14Skeletons now have a improved accuracy.
v0.12.1build 1Skeletons now use the new AI again, thus improving accuracy, walking and shooting speed and intelligence.

When skeletons catches fire in the daylight, they hides to the nearest shadow or body of water. Skeletons also avoid falls, fire, lava and cactus.

Skeletons may now spawn wearing armor or enchanted armor.
Skeletons may now spawn with enchanted bows.
build 12New sounds have been added for skeletons.
?A developer asks for The community about flaming arrows being shot by burning skeletons:"What do you think about Skeletons on fire shooting fire arrows (that set you on fire?)."@shoghicp on X, May 31, 2016
Burning skeletons now shoot flaming arrows.
v0.13.0build 1Skeletons now run away from wolves.
Skeletons now fire faster when players get closer to knock them back, especially to players in water.
v0.14.0build 1Skeletons are now slightly taller (1.99 blocks tall rather than 1.95).
v0.15.0build 1Skeleton JE5 BE3 Skeletons now animate their bow, they pull it out when becoming hostile and draw it back to shoot arrows.
Skeletons now spawn from skeleton trap horses.
?Burning skeletons now shoot flaming arrows only if the regional difficulty is 3 or greater. Prior to this, burning skeletons would always shoot flaming arrows regardless of regional difficulty.
Bedrock Edition
1.2.0beta now have a 8.5% chance of dropping their equipment. Prior to this, skeletons would never drop their bow and would always drop always their armor.
1.5.0beta now sink underwater.
Skeletons no longer die from drowning.
Skeletons now use melee attacks and stop shooting when underwater.
beta now seek and attack baby turtles.
1.10.0beta JE6 BE4 The texture of skeletons has been changed.
1.16.0beta can now spawn in soul sand valley biomes.
Skeletons can now pick up items.
Skeleton now use melee attack when not holding bow on their hand, prior to this, skeleton use any items as ranged weapon to shoot arrow normally.
1.17.0beta now turn into strays when they are in powder snow.
1.17.10beta stray conversion time in powder snow from 30 to 7 seconds.
1.17.30beta Aiming JE2 BE3 Skeletons now hold their bow with two hands again when aiming.
1.19.60beta now spawn from light level 0 to 7 in the Nether.
Legacy Console Edition
TU1CU1 1.0 Patch 11.0.1Skeleton JE2 Added skeletons.
TU5Skeleton JE3 BE1 The 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).
Skeletons now fire their arrows slightly slower. Their arrows, however, are shot with more force.
TU12The skeleton's AI has been updated, so they are "smarter", i.e. if a skeleton catches fire in daylight, it rushes to the nearest shadow or body of water for safety.
There is now a small chance that skeletons drop a bow when killed. There is now also a small chance of the bow being enchanted.
TU19CU7 1.12 Skeletons can now spawn wearing armor and weapons.
Once the player gets closer to a skeleton, the skeleton now fires arrows more frequently.
TU31CU19 1.22 Patch 3Skeletons now run away from wolves, instead of fighting back.
Skeletons now drop their skull when killed by a charged creeper.
TU46CU36 1.38 Patch 15Skeletons may now spawn from skeleton trap horses.
Skeletons now have a new AI that allows them to strafe while attacking.
Skeleton JE5 BE3 Skeletons now animate their bow.
New Nintendo 3DS Edition
0.1.0Skeleton JE4 BE2 Added skeletons.
Minecraft Earth
0.2.0Skeleton JE6 BE4 Added skeletons.

Historical sounds:

Sound From to Pitch
Hurt/Die Alpha v1.0.3 1.4.2[is this the correct version?] 1.0


Issues relating to "Skeleton" are maintained on the bug tracker. Report issues there.


  • If alerted to a player's presence, a skeleton can fire arrows backward, occasionally hitting themselves.
  • Skeletons cannot see the player through glass, fences, or other transparent blocks.
  • Skeletons and their variants do not know how to use a crossbow, despite the same using method as a bow.
  • The artificial intelligence of skeletons in Bedrock Edition is a mix of skeleton AI from Java Edition between versions 1.5 and 1.8.9 and the skeletons in Update Aquatic. They shoot faster when they are on land and the target underwater, causing knockback enough to make combat hard. Additionally, they do not strafe left to right, and they shoot more rapidly at closer targets. Skeletons also use ranged attacks on land and switch to melee attacks when sinking underwater.
  • In Java Edition, 89% of skeletons hold their bow in their right hand and 11% with the left. This reflects estimated handedness percentages in the real world.
  • If a skeleton has a sword or any other melee item, generally with commands, its AI resembles the wither skeleton's AI.
  • In Bedrock Edition, skeletons do not animate their bow.
  • C418 used bamboo wind chime sounds as a base for the skeleton sounds.[5]


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In other media[]



turn strays into snoblockeded