"Mice are here."
I was under the impression that the word of location could go either before or after the subject. Is it required to come before?
No, it's not required. Actually, I think that "Здесь мыши" is better translated as "There are mice here"
It depends on what you mean. If you are telling where the objects are, these go first:
- Мыши возле стола.
- Коробка на столе.
If it is more like describing what is found at a certain place, the place goes first:
- There are mice there / Mice are there → Там мыши.
- There are boxes and pencils on the table(desk) → На столе коробки и карандаши.
So can I consider "Мыши здесь" to mean "The mice are here"?
Yeah, this would be the correct translation in general. Or maybe some finer points evade me.
So in this case, whatever is of more interest is at the end of the sentence? Is this usually the case?
Yes, that's how it works. And that's how the "neutral" word order is determined: "newer" info tends to go closer to the end.
Of course, you can bend the Russian word order, which is flexible. As one of our users precisely suggested, moving words from where they would normally be creates certain tension, which you can use to draw attention to a specific part of the sentence. It requires correct intonation and some justification (i.e. you need to know what you are doing).