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, Diederik Sonoy, an ally of William the Silent, is documented to have used a method where a pottery bowl filled with rats was placed open side down on the naked body of a prisoner. When hot charcoal was piled on the bowl, the rats would “gnaw into the very bowels of the victim” in an attempt to escape the heat.
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.
Rat torture was allegedly used in Brazil during the military regime of 1964-1985, in Chile during the regime of Augusto Pinochet (1973–1990) and in Argentina during the period of the National Reorganization Process (1976–1983). The report of CONADEP in Argentina detailed the use of a torture method known as “the recto-scope” (reserved primarily for Jewish prisoners) which consisted of inserting living rats into a victim’s rectum or vagina through a tube. Amnesty International documented the case of a woman tortured by the Chilean CNI (National Intelligence Agency) in 1981, who described being kept in a room full of live rats during interrogation.
On October 16, 2010, in Lakewood Township, New Jersey, David Wax was alleged to have threatened kidnap victim Yisrael Bryskman with rat torture unless he agreed to give his wife a get. He was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for assisting in a kidnapping.