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I created a giant skeleton statue and decided to spawn skeletons in the head. I put water in there just in case they burn, even though its completly dark. In a few hours, i came back and they were all gone. How long do they stay? And is there any way to keep them?

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Light level does not affect skeletons despawning. There is no set limit on how long they can stay there, but they have a chance of despawning if you're further than 32 blocks from them, and will despawn instantly if you move over 128 blocks away from them.

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To stop mobs from despawning, you can name them using a name tag, or set their "PersistenceRequired" tag to true using /entitydata.

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