Rats may be used to torture a victim by encouraging them to attack and eat him alive. This is supposed to be a traditional form of Chinese punishment.
The "Rats' Dungeon" or "Dungeon of the Rats" was a feature of the Tower of London alleged by Roman Catholic writers from the Elizabethan era. "A cell below high-water mark and totally dark" would draw in rats from the River Thames as the tide flowed in. Prisoners would have their "alarm excited" and in some instances have "flesh ... torn from the arms and legs".
During the Dutch Revolt, Diederick Sonoy, an ally of William the Silent, is documented to have used a method where a pottery bowl filled with rats was placed upside down on the naked body of a prisoner. When hot charcoal was piled on the bowl, the rats would attempt to escape by "gnawing into the very bowels of the victim".
Rat torture appears in the famous case study of a patient of Sigmund Freud. The Rat Man obsessed that his father and lady friend would be subjected to this torture.
According to an account in the New York Times, during the 1970s, the United States Central Intelligence Agency trained interrogators in the Honduran Army to use psychological techniques including putting rats and cockroaches in prisoners' cells, and giving prisoners dead rats in place of meals