Baby Snake is a fucking asshole. The count so far is 10 bites between us, 7 tail-rattles (adorable), 3 wide-open mouth threats, 3 awkward humping sessions of our wrists (I didn’t know snakes masturbated?, but there you go), and one…
Moron? Hardly. You definitely did some great research here! I may not be a herpetologist, but I have years of experience caring for snakes, and like I said- never have experienced any kind of “masturbation” behavior. Snakes actually breed on a cycle, at a certain time per year, once sexually mature… so I doubt the behavior you’re seeing is that since your little one is so young! Not sure what it could be, without seeing it, but I would be really surprised if it was. :) I don’t think it would be aggression either, though! Granted, T rats are NOTORIOUS for their attitudes (rat snakes in general are pretty well known to be quite defensive creatures, it’s why I like them, actually), so the biting and rattling as both you and Stiffler have noted… totally normal!
As for the cage size- yes, snakes definitely need room to breathe… lots of people use tubs for even rat snakes, which I would never recommend. My main concern is if the cage is too large for his current size. It’s okay for a snake to grow into a larger cage, of course. :) Tubs are absolutely fine for smaller, more sedentary snakes like ball pythons- a rat snake is neither of those, and is in fact a semi-arboreal snake. You should see what my friend has set up for her scaleless… lots of bird toys that they investigate quite a bit!
As for the handling- it’s hard to tell what you were talking about from the post, so it read like you were handling him, not getting nipped at when you put your hands in the cage. Personally, I’d still leave the cage alone for at least a few days but that’s me. As for humidity, from the setup you have it doesn’t look like you should have any trouble, it should actually be holding humidity well, unless it’s a screen top glass enclosure embedded. In my experience with snakes that like a lot of humidity, I have always offered a humid hide stuffed with moss, and left an additional water tray near/on the hotspot that allows for evaporation, and the type of cage, if a good, enclosed cage like yours, usually doesn’t need much misting. A friend of mine used a mist-king system for her ETB, which she reccomends heartily, but I can’t see it being needed for a snake like a Texas rat who won’t drop in health dramatically if its humidity is too low for a few days, unlike many tropical arboreal snakes.
But yeah, again, I don’t think you’re idiots at all. It’s good you have done a lot of research. There are some points that I find odd (like 2 heat-sources makes no sense to me. I would only ever use one, myself. If one is not giving you the proper amount of heat you should find a better brand or method that does, and lamps aren’t really a good plan for keeping your humidity stable ;) experience, speaking here!), and having such a large cage for such a small snake, which can cause stress (again, you don’t want a rat snake in a shoebox either, but from the looks of that cage it’s a few feet tall at least, and for a snake that’s under a foot, it’s a bit much… unless your snake is larger than he appears to be, as it appears to be a hatchling).
I don’t mean to impede, but just looking at what was posted already about him, I thought I’d offer up some tips as an experienced snake owner who sees a couple of people who are doing a really wonderful job already with their new snake, and have done great research, but have a couple of things potentially wrong in husbandy. No shame in that… like i said… You’ve already done quite well for him, especially for first time snake owners!