Are There Rat People in New York City?

Reader Hannah Caporello wonders:

This is random, and I’m not saying you’re the type of blog that would write about rats, but after two separate encounters I’m terrified there’s either some new rat-person trend in NYC or — worse — that there always have been rat people and I just didn’t notice them. The first incident was on the downtown 6, when a girl with faded blue hair and a man wearing airship goggles sat down, opened a backpack, and took out three white rats. He held two of them, and then she took one and STUCK ITS HEAD IN HER MOUTH, letting it LICK HER TONGUE. This went on for maybe four stops.

I chalked this up as a weird NYC moment, but then a couple weeks later I got off the 6 at Canal Street and almost walked into a man in a Scarface windbreaker and a full-face black winter mask putting a white rat DYED BLUE on his head. He just stood against a wall while the rat walked back and forth on his hat.

What does it mean?