A 15-day-old baby was found covered in up to 100 rat bites and needed reconstructive surgery to repair an open wound on its head.
Police said the infant’s arms, fingers, face and hands were covered in rodent bites.
Officers found the baby’s cot covered in bloody rat footprints, WKBN reported.
The father, 18-year-old Charles Elliot, is said to have told his mother he was afraid to take his child to hospital in case it was taken away.
Durham Police to use AI to predict future crimes of suspects
Mr Elliot and his partner Erica Shryock, 19, of Magnolia in Arkansas, were arrested after police were called by doctors who treated their child. They have been charged with endangering the welfare of a minor.
The pair admitted knowing their house had a rat problem but did nothing about it, WKBN reported. All three of their children have been taken into protective custody, according to KARK.
According to WKBN, Ms Shryock put her baby to sleep at 5.30am on Sunday and was woken by its screams two hours later. She and her partner noticed their child was covered in blood but they waited for Mr Elliot’s mother to arrive, at 9am before going to hospital.
Their roommate told police she could not understand how the parents did not wake earlier, given the baby’s cot was next to their bed.
Doctors told police that the “severe skin destruction” the baby suffered would have taken place over the course of hours, and that its parents must have been either absent or incapacitated to have failed to respond to its distress, WKBN said.